Animal Collective Are Pared Down but Still Epic on Saturday at Brooklyn Steel

Animal Collective Are Pared Down but Still Epic on Saturday at Brooklyn Steel

March 14, 2022

Animal Collective – Brooklyn Steel – March 12, 2022

One of the joys of seeing the experimental-pop group Animal Collective live is keeping your eyes and ears at attention, seeing if you can spot the hint of the upcoming song in their interstitial jamming or in their psychedelic visuals. That remained the truth on Saturday at Brooklyn Steel where the band played a set that was epic but was also without the elaborate stage design or layered soundscape that fans have come to expect. Instead, Animal Collective were pared down, clutching guitars instead of synthesizers or samplers.

It’s the latest form for the chameleonic group, and they proved themselves just as capable of conjuring their immersive sound from these more traditional textures as they are with electronics loaded with samples and covered in effects. The cuts from Merriweather Post Pavilion (the hypnotic masterpiece that gave them their reputation as a sampler band), “No More Runnin’” and banger “In the Flowers,” sounded just as propulsive as they have with other setups, and even “Applesauce,” from the trippy noisefest of 2012’s Centipede Hz was huge and full.

Animal Collective work so well because even at their weirdest, most experimental moments, they groove rhythmically and shine melodically. They’re space travelers, but no matter how far they stray, they always orbit Planet Pop—screaming may be a value, atonal excursions may be a value, psychedelia may be a value, but so are things like harmony and danceability. And they always come home: The band included cuts from 2007 fan-favorite Strawberry Jam, including “Chores,” and the pep-talk “For Reverend Green,” which served as the night’s closer, with Avey Tare singing the chorus, “Now I think that’s the best we’ve ever played it.” I think so, too. —Adlan Jackson | @AdlanKJ

(Animal Collective play the Starland Ballroom on Wednesday.)

Photo courtesy of Ellen Qbertplaya | @Qbertplaya

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