22 May 2007

Animal Collective in Denver, May 21

The hipsters were out last night in Five Points here in Denver. The freak-folk group Animal Collective played at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, which really was a spectacle to behold. The theatre itself is located in a recovering neighborhood and was a great venue for such an eclectic show. As we walked around before the show, I could see the old Denver, the place that Jack Kerouac roamed. We passed old barber shops and family stores that were flanked by new lofts and light-rail tracks. Cervantes has lots of seating around the dance floor which was helpful because the show was more of something to see rather than listen.

Sir Richard Bishop (he’s a knight of the Spanish guitar, apparently) opened with an angst-ridden showing of classical guitar and folk songs. Bishop is very skilled at classical guitar, but his lyrics were more the ravings of a crotchety old man that actual songs. He sang about lynching a preacher and various other anti-Christian themes, for which the crowd really seemed indifferent. He finished with a fifteen minute instrumental piece that raged in a flamenco dialect. Bishop was entertaining, but his virtuosity with a guitar was not enough to merit his lengthy set.

Animal Collective’s frenetic sound demands a live show. Their equipment crowded the stage- not a guitar in sight. They opened with ‘Purple Bottle’ and transitioned into ‘Grass’ and I really couldn’t take it all in at once. Animal Collective’s music is complex and layered, it was very interesting to watch them assume the stage and jump into their entrancing performance. The frantic vocals of Portner and Lennox (aka Avey Tare and Panda Bear, respectively) hounded the theatre in waves of reverb and rang true to the group’s name. All of the performers stuck to their stations throughout the performance, which was appropriate considering how small the stage was. They played new material from their upcoming album, but I really couldn’t tell the difference between it and their old work. Animal Collective has released seven albums since their conception in 2000. Animal Collective has pretty decent music, but their act is truly a sight to behold.

Their next album, Strawberry Jam, will be out in September 2007.

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