By Rachel Heller
“Welcome to the show!” shouted Avey Tare, member of the experimental band Animal Collective, amongst whizzing synth sounds and pulsating drum beats. With this simple introduction, the band invited Monday night’s sold-out crowd at DC’s 9:30 Club into their own kaleidoscopic little world—and the audience received them with open arms.
The Baltimore-based band, composed of Avey Tare, Geologist, Panda Bear, and accompanied by drummer Jeremy Hyman, is currently on tour for their most recent album, Painting With. Having kept a low profile over the last few years, the tour signifies a return to the concert scene, and confirmation that their signature outlandish and vibrant live atmosphere has not gone away.
The night’s affairs kicked off at 8:00 with opener Haley Fohr, performing under the stage name Circuit Des Yeux. All eyes were on the stage as soulful guitar strums complemented by Fohr’s deeply rich voice commanded the packed room’s full attention. With each song, Fohr masterfully weaved together a minimalistic, stripped-down atmosphere—a stark contrast to the chaotic soundscapes that encompassed the remainder of the show.
Fohr took a break in between her set to discuss the night’s main event, Animal Collective: “They’re really psychedelic dudes; it’s nice touring with them. Everyone’s so open minded, it’s kind of [messed] up,” accompanied by laughter from the crowd.
An hour after Fohr’s conclusion, the lights dimmed and the audience erupted in cheers as Animal Collective took to the stage. No strangers to the eccentric, the band began their set surrounded by three Easter Island-esque figures placed against a geometric background. The colors of the lights altered with the completion of each song, along with visuals varying from hypnotic spirals to video loops of paint splatters.
Animal Collective made no haste in turning 9:30 Club inside-out in their own electrifying fashion, starting off the night with “Taste,” a droning, electronic melody featured on their most critically acclaimed album, Merriweather Post Pavilion.
The atmosphere grew increasingly frenzied as songs such as “On Delay” and “Summing the Wretch” submerged the venue in a mélange of animalistic and electronic sounds, ranging from chirps to beeps. Other more toned-down songs—or as toned-down as Animal Collective can manage—of the likes of “Bees” and “Kinda Bonkers” offered a moment away from the sensory-overload.
The band closed with “Summertime Clothes,” a fan favorite that tranced the crowd into a state of euphoria, compelling them to dance as much as the jam-packed club allowed. After thanking the crowd, the group exited the stage, only to return a few moments later for an encore. The night reached its ultimate peak as Animal Collective finished with “FloriDada,” an upbeat, bouncing lead single fresh off of Painting With.
As the lights dimmed and the venue emptied, the intoxicating escape from the humdrum of everyday life came to an end. With the completion of their tenth studio album, popular opinion would suggest that the band should’ve faded out by now. However, experiences such as Monday night’s assure that Animal Collective’s magic won’t fizzle out anytime soon.