Animal Collective – Live at 9:30 Club in DC (Show Review)

Animal Collective

Live at the 9:30 Club in DC


By Matthew Bowers

Driving to the 9:30 Club last night, I really had no idea what to expect from the band I was about to see perform. This assignment came to me last minute, and I was excited for the opportunity to cover the show because of the fact that I was mostly unfamiliar with the band and their material. Coming in with a pair of fresh ears I feel is the best way to truly get a sense of what a performer is trying to accomplish live with a (hopefully) captive audience. A lot of times I think personally I can get my expectations up too high when I’m going to see a band I’ve already seen perform numerous times, wanting them to play certain songs or jam them out a certain way. When you’re hearing music live for the first time, listening to songs you’ve never heard before, you accept them in their purest form and your mind decides right then and there whether those sounds are pleasurable to your own artistic subjectivity or not. I can tell you that my ears really liked what they heard from the Animal Collective last night.

When I first walked into the 9:30 cClub and saw the stage production that was put into place, I knew at the very least I would get an extremely entertaining visual display. But when the stage lit up and the music started, I knew that this show would be a full package of color and sound.

Being relatively unfamiliar with the catalogue, it would be a disservice to you as a reader to try to break the show down song for song. Instead I’m going to give you my review of the entire experience as a whole (which was fantastic by the way). This band has a presence about them on stage, and I was more than impressed with the way they held the crowd’s attention. Everyone was engaged and listening or dancing. I saw VERY few people holding up their phones, which is always one of the most refreshing things to see. The music these guys produce has so much texture and color, and the visual display that accompanies it is a spot on visual representation of the sounds that they create. I have to give some kudos to the lighting designer. In all the years I’ve been seeing shows there I have never seen an LD use the house speakers as a projection surface. I thought that was a really clever touch and showed how much thought went into the production itself.

From ambient to tribal, dreamy to danceable, there were so many changes to the mood of the music. The range the band has adds a lot to the excitement of a live show, not really knowing where the mood will go next. But whichever direction they chose to take it was always interesting. I never once felt like anything dragged on longer than it should, and I was genuinely entertained from the beginning to end. They have their own brand of improv, it’s not really “jamming” in the traditional sense, but they do go off the cuff and create seamless transitions between songs.

These guys are are incredibly inventive in the way they use their voices and synths/live drums to create landscapes of sound. Standout singers, the harmonies were spot on and I was really impressed with the quality of the vocals from everyone in the group. Not to mention the drummer is fantastic.

Having a lot of friends who have been into Animal Collective for several years, by the end of the show I was asking myself how I had never seen them play before. A lot of times you only have to see a band perform once for the music and energy to click with you, and this was one of those times for me. I am undoubtedly going to be digging into this group’s material and enjoying the hell out of it (in fact I’ve already started). Listening to new music is one of my favorite things to do on this planet, and exposing people to new music is one of the reasons this website exists. I’d like to thank Live Music Daily for the opportunity to experience this show and to tell you guys about it, and I’d like to thank Animal Collective for creating great music and pouring their hearts out on stage. If you aren’t familiar with them go get a taste of their fantastic live show.

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