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An Animal Collective Live Retrospective

Baltimore experimental pop group: Animal Collective has been one of my favorite bands for many years now.  For the hardcore fan, the band’s live show have been just as intriguing as their albums. With the release of their new record: Painting With and tonight’s live performance at the Concord, I’d like to share some of my favorite recorded performance from each of AnCo’s live incarnations over the past decade.


The Collective’s earliest tours are surprisingly well documented. Footage from 2001 shows that band at it’s most primal and abrasive. The band had not begun using the samples that would define future live setups, but instead consisted of Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) on drums, Avey Tare (Dave Portner) on guitars, and Geologist (Brian Wietz) running fx and feedback loops. Performances from this period shift from frightening to hilarious rather quickly.


Very little footage exists of the tour leading up to the release of Here Comes The Indian. From what I can tell performances were in the same vain as previous tours only this time even more tribal and Boredoms-esque. The band’s lineup was completed by the addition of guitar player Deakin (Josh Dibb) during this time. That same year, Animal Collective released a freak-folk album under the name Campfire Songs. This would inform the bands subsequent tour and their 4th album: Sung Tongs. This tour saw the band stripped to the acoustic guitar and floor-tom duo of Avey and Panda. The primal energy remains here, but child like vocalizations and Beach Boy harmonies replaced the abrasive noise.


After Sung Tongs proved to be a critical success, the full 4 man lineup made a return and began touring songs for their 5th release Feels. This lineup continued into 2005 and 2006 where the band would debut material from Strawberry Jam. The material here was their most ambient and poppy to date, with electric guitars and samples beginning to be used as a major part of the live instrumentation.


2007 through 2009 is the most well documented period of Animal Collective’s career. Most likely due to the arrival of smart phones combined with the rising popularity of youtube and live-streamed concerts. Over three years of nearly non-stop touring, the band used the live show to develop the tracks that would eventually form their critical and commercial peak: Merriweather Post Pavilion. My favorite footage of the band comes from this era. The use of samplers meant they were able to perform most of their back-catalog, which was often reworked to fit in with the new material. In my opinion this is Animal Collective working at the height of their creative powers.


Since the release of MPP, the band has tour less frequently. The full lineup returned in 2011 for a set of festival dates, leading up to the release of Chz in 2012. Avey Tare developing strep throat multiple times in 2013 plagued the subsequent tour, however the band still played some of their strongest sets during this time.


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