Last evening's performance by Animal Collective was nothing short of amazing, but we'll get to that shortly. Last night was my first time at suburban Alpharetta's Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, which is a pleasant-enough, open-air venue, and it was a satisfyingly warm Georgia evening for a night's show.
The all-ages venue was full of high-school kids, however, which reminded me why I prefer to see bands in bars and clubs. They were well behaved (far better than I was when at concerts at their age) as well as young and pretty, but they were there as much to socialize and talk as listen to music, and were annoyingly loud through most of the first two acts.
The first act up and the first victim of the chattering was Angel Deradoorian of Dirty Projectors, performing simply as Deradoorian, who took the stage at 8:00 am sharp. I had managed to work my way close to the front of the stage, but when Angel took the stage in a short dress and sat behind her keyboard near the front of the stage, her face was blocked by giant crystal structures that were part of Animal Collective's stage set. I couldn't move through the crowd very well for a better view of her, and worse the view that I did have was right up her dress as she sat at her keyboard. Me and the people around me all tried to pretend we weren't looking at her black underpants as she played. In case you're wondering, I didn't take a picture because I don't want to be that guy who posts an upskirt picture of Angel on the internet.
Anyway, she played a very interesting set that sounded like it contained elements of both written songs and improvisational music. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to capture the interest of the young kids round me, who all talked very loudly to their friends throughout the set. Their chattering created a blanket of sound that covered Angel's music, and her set ended abruptly after a half hour with her just walking off the stage at the end of a song. She never spoke a word to the audience or otherwise engage in any banter at all.
After a very short break (Verizon Wireless apparently keeps its performers on a tight schedule), Bradford Cox of Deerhunter took the stage, performing as Atlas Sound. He wore white face like Geneva Jacuzzi had on Wednesday night, but fortunately didn't perform in pantomime like her. Over his tall, gaunt frame, the white face made him look like some sinister cross between a 19th Century troubadour and The Joker. He played an acoustic guitar, but by looping samples of his playing and layering several of those loops over one another, and then using sustain and echo pedal effects, was able to create many diverse and interesting sonic textures. It was a beautiful and interesting set, and even managed to (slightly) quiet down the teen-aged crowd.
Atlas Sound played a full set, and after a somewhat longer break than before, Animal Collective took the stage. They played several new songs, apparently from a soon-to-be-released album, and a few classics, such as Brother Sport (but not, unfortunately, My Girls). They were at times boisterous and energetic, at times spacey and laid back, and always interesting. Their elastic song structures stretched out at times to accommodate some long, psychedelic riffs of synthesizers and treated guitars, before snapping back to near-tribal rhythms and chants.
The stage set featured those large crystal sculptures that had obscured Angel Deradoorain's face earlier, but now lit in changing colors and occasionally with projected images, and a large skull behind the band that looked like the exterior of L5P's Vortex. It was different and quirky enough to be interesting, but not so much as to be distracting.
The lighting was tricky and I didn't even try to take pictures of Animal Collective's performance. The picture above was from when I first arrived; it was still daylight and the stage had not yet been illuminated. The picture at the top of this post is from somebody's Flickr account and are of Thursday night's performance in Orlando, but look fairly similar to last night's performance. Creative Loafing has a pretty good gallery of pics from last night here. One of their pictures on line is of this Spiderman-looking guy, who was standing in the crowd just slightly ahead of me.
The young crowd was finally fully engaged, chanting along when appropriate, whooping and hollering as they rode the waves of music cascading off of the stage. It was a fun ride, and the buzz continued even for the length of the whole long ride back to Atlanta.