concert reviews

Animal Collective Tames Its Act Just a Bit
Animal Collective at the Black Cat, Washington, DC, Tuesday 21 March 2006

Traditionally, Animal Collective performances have consisted of one long piece that drifted in and out of coherent songs by means of improvised transitions. On Tuesday night at a sold-out Black Cat, however, the Brooklyn quartet actually paused for applause between songs, making their nearly two-hour concert seem less spontaneous.

Despite the more organized presentation, the group's sound has changed very little since its last area show, still centering on thumping percussion, repetitive guitars and electronics, and vocals that jump instantly from a melody to a yelp. Even segregated into distinct pieces, the Collective's songs maintained their organic feel, as when the group -- and much of the crowd -- bounced along to a jubilant, repeated "Whoo!" at the end of "The Purple Bottle."

The group may have seemed more aware of the audience, but it still dove into some longer, morphing pieces reminiscent of their earlier, less conventional recordings. One song began with guitarist Avey Tare singing in a delicate gargle over a faint, pulsing drone and slowly accelerated into a hippie improv jam, with all four members hopping in rhythm and shrieking or pounding exuberantly on their instruments.

With such carefree moments, Animal Collective's performance remained free-spirited and inventive even beneath its newfound structure.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 24 February 2006; Page C02
.: Selected discography: Feels (Animal Collective, 2005); Prospect Hummer (Animal Collective and Vashti Bunyan, 2005); Sung Tongs (Animal Collective, 2004); Here Comes the Indian (Animal Collective, 2003); Spirit They're Gone, Spirit They've Vanished/Danse Manitee (Animal Collective, 2003).