by / July 14th, 2011 /

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland

You’ll know the name Merriweather Post Pavilion thanks to Animal Collective, the name of the eighth album that launched the band to a new level of success around the world, the screaming adoration of the blogosphere and a weight of expectation for what they would produce next. It’s also, however, the name of the band’s local venue and the natural place for them to conclude their world tour – even if they do share the schedule with Black Eyed Peas, deadmau5 and Steely Dan.

Opening with the hauntingly intensifying dirge ‘Change’, set against a drippy kaleidoscopic backdrop, the mood is set for the evening: pounding electronic-infused new material with the occasional, radically altered selection from their back catalogue – all accompanied by a psychotropically decorated stage. The crowd responded hesitantly at first, swaying obediently to the new songs, before bursting into a frenzied collective recognition of ‘Summertime Clothes’, ‘Brother Sport’ and ‘Taste’. Most of the night is spent showcasing unrecorded material though and while other bands might shy away from the possibility of alienating an audience, Animal Collective seem quite happy to just play the music they wanted to (‘My Girls’ remains absent).

Regardless of lyric familiarity, their idiosyncratic sound is present throughout. Avery Tare and Panda Bear swathe the venue with echoing, vibrating vocals while Geologist hunches over a synthesizer hammering out unfathomably enveloping noise underneath the Fortress of Solitude. Clearly having a fantastic time playing in ‘their’ venue, Avery Tare breaks out of his trance and acknowledge his effervescent surroundings. “It’s sweet to be here,” he says. He isn’t wrong.