Animal Collective Listening Party
More than 200 fans, friends, and writers were invited to Harlem’s River Room last night to hear the ninth album from precocious Baltimore noise crew turned unlikely Brooklyn art-rock juggernaut Animal Collective. With the album due all the way in January, the Collective figured they’d beat the Internet in a controlled environment; it would not, however, be an easy listen. Fans were notified of the event via a hidden note on the Animal Collective website, press dudes had to RSVP in advance, and everyone was then forced to trek up to Harlem on a 48-degree night. (Watching nervous indie-rock dudes with 1″-pin-strewn messenger bags erratically trying to figure out which direction to walk on 145th St. was worth the trip alone). After a trip down the hill, across the overpass, and through the park, the River Room awaited, a heated dome decked out with trippy lighting and cozy seats, though many true blue Animal fans simply migrated to the floor.
For a band who once sang a song with “Meowwww, kitteees” for a coda, their fans can be deathly serious: Some applause after the opening track was quickly cut off with a curt shush; many sat with eyes closed, looking as if they were preparing for the rapture; some dude just started rave dancing. After the Animals lulled everyone into their world (this happened really quickly), the venue looked like a rec room at 3 a.m., everyone staring off, completely silent, sprawled out, staring at nothing in particular. But credit to the band: This was pretty much the opposite of liveblogging a 128 kbps Soulseek rip on a message board.
As for the album, Merriweather Post Pavilion seems more focused than last year’s Strawberry Jam: bigger textures, suffocating drones, explosive buildups, and booming beats—but that all may have just been the effect of the giant speakers. The record’s got the layered harmonies of Panda Bear’s solo turn, but not the bubblegum pop, opting instead for the stoned vibe of a friendly drum circle or an house record spun at 4 a.m. But if you take anything from this: The riotous “Summertime Clothes” will be your summer jam in ’09. If they can keep this thing from leaking.—Christopher R. Weingarten
Merriweather Post Pavilion comes out January 20, 2009 on Domino.