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Pitchfork Music Festival: tUnE-yArDs, Animal Collective

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The intrepid Merrill Garbus, the central figure of tUnE-yArDs, won for best soundcheck of the day. Portents of what was to come, Garbus called out various wails and "day-oh's" into the microphone, which then looped back through the speakers in endless arrays to make a choir of one. The crowd gathered at the small Blue Stage cheered wildly, and the show hadn't even begun yet.

Garbus' proper set leapt to life with "Party Can (Do You Want to Live?)" on the strength of those looped vocals, a lynchpin of the tUnE-yArDs' engaging, exciting set. Singing, re-singing and playing her own abbreviated drum kit, Garbus, her face streaked with colorful war paint, wailed and cooed and hollered through a set bristling with punkish spirit -- at least in the defiant creativity of the electronically enhanced arrangements, amended here and there by two saxophone players -- and bracing composition, from the "wah-ooh-wah" vocal round and bleating jazz climax of "Gangsta" to the occasional instances of barking and guitar scraping.

Each song found dissonance and harmony tugging at war, never finding an easy truce but always a workable and tuneful solution. By "Powa," another track from this year's "W H O K I L L" album, Garbus was singing more naturally -- and soulfully -- her powerful pipes stretching out a bit as more than mere fodder for the sequencers. The tech never diluted the songs, the songs never lost their spirit of celebration and joy. "You're a wonderful sight to see out there," she said, catching her breath. "You're a massive bundle of love." Back at ya, m'dear.

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Animal Collective closed out the night, making a God-awful racket of their unfocused, rambling electronic jams. On a stage full of flashing lights and papery backdrops, the individual members of the band -- longtime friends and collaborators Avey Tare (David Porter), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Deakin (Josh Dibb) and Geologist (Brian Weitz) -- were lost as they cranked out a lot of music fans hadn't yet heard, since the band's last album was 2009's "Merriweather Post Pavilion" and they've since been working on film scores and other projects.

Industrial clanking, monotonous rhythms and lengthy, noodling transitions between songs made for a noisy, messy performance. Only a few moments came close to gelling -- a frenetic calypso waltz early in the show with wild static noises sliding up and down the scale, and an easygoing "A Long Time Ago" -- but most of the music was scattered. I know the Guggenheim has bestowed some overvalued art-rock cred on them, but while their drifting, shiftless sounds may constitute art it doesn't constitute a good time.

"Were you here for Panda Bear last year?" asked the woman next to me. Alas, yes I was. She joined me in rolling eyes. "My friend and I were rolling on the ground in the fetal position begging God to make it stop." Lather, rinse, repeat.



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5 Comments

You and that women were wrong. Animal Collective went hard tonight bringing a great set of moody bass bumping electrically dimension shifting dance beats that were clunky funky meet you on the back porch forever hun because we are alive and your the best, type of music.

Honestly, if you didn't like that set, youre just as close-minded as Derogatis about experimental music. The sounds weren't ramblings and they most certainly were not unfocused. Rather, they were super melodic jams, with dance-friendly time signatures, and solid transitioning into every song. Get over your grudge against hipster culture, and appreciate the music for what it is. I'm sure that, like Dero, you would rather listen to Weezer's Raditude or The Red Album, but I think I'm going to go ahead an keep listening to music that really pushes boundaries and changes perspectives on music, much like Animal Collective did last night.

I completely agree with the writer on this one. I noticed maybe a few moments throughout Animal Collective's set where the audience was actually able to respond and engage in their performance. You'd think that performing electronic music to a crowd with copious amounts of weed and mdma would be simple, but when it comes to 'hipster boredom', not even a band like Animal Collective is safe. They played an amazing show at Pitchfork back in 2008, and this year they played noise. Also, I hear that forgetting to play an encore doesn't sit well with fans either.

you guys should be thankful that animal collective are willing to play a venue like this and expose to you how narrow your view of music is. loved it.

While I have a large bias being a fan of the group, I thought their performance was very focused. The new songs sounded pretty well fleshed out, like they could be close to recording a new album in the near future. People who only heard noise probably didn't go into the show with enough exposure to the band outside their last few albums. I am still hearing the songs in my head from the other night. Also Brother Sport was fantastic, the entire crowd shifted but not in a super aggressive mosh pit punch you in the face way. It was strange. As well as the We Tigers/Summertime Clothes medley. Fantastic set. Can't wait for the album.

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on July 16, 2011 12:00 AM.

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