Live: Panda Bear Assaults Eyes And Ears At Music Hall Of Williamsburg


Panda Bear w/ Ducktails
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Sunday, July 3

Better than: Blasting Person Pitch at home while watching your computer’s iTunes visualizer.

That “Better than” section above is not just a joke. On Sunday night, Panda Bear, a/k/a Noah Lennox a/k/a the poppier dude from Animal Collective, turned Music Hall of Williamsburg into a real-life iTunes visualizer, complete with a projected slideshow behind him that played scenes from movies interspersed with ebbing color dreamscapes as well as disorienting projectors that blasted light in the faces of the audience. Lennox’s setup was daunting, to say the least; so many wires and pieces of equipment were present that it would not have surprised anyone if they became sentient and killed everyone inside the venue.

Thankfully, Tomboy producer Peter “Sonic Boom” Kember was also on stage, and he helped Panda Bear maneuver the electronics on the way to conducting an hour-long set with precision, efficiency and absolutely no banter; the only words that Lennox said outside of songs were “thank you” and “good night”, and Kemper didn’t even have a mic in front of him.

Panda Bear opened the lush, loud set with a barrage of songs from his latest album, including an intoxicating rendition of “Slow Motion.” The audience was packed with diehards; most people were singing along (under their breath; there was no annoying lyric-shouter) and dancing in place. One young woman near the stage may have broken down in tears during the particularly long and powerful version of “You Can Count On Me” that started the show, but that could have been the lights playing tricks on me.

As Lennox and Kemper walked off stage, ending their set rather abruptly, the crowd engaged in the time-tested tradition of chanting “One! More! Song!” In fact, it was one of the more spirited versions of this concert staple, yet it was surprisingly unsuccessful; Panda Bear was back in hibernation, and no encore would be had for the crestfallen yet fulfilled audience.

Opening the night was Ducktails, the side project from Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile. While normally a solo endeavor, he was joined on stage by a tight and focused band (the drummer barely looked up from his kit throughout). Ducktails took its cue from Lennox and blasted through a mostly banter-free set of lo-fi beach pop, although there was an amusing moment when a heckler offered to buy the guys a beer and Mondanile answered by sarcastically thanking the “dude who’s talking really loudly.” That heckler said nothing more.

Critical bias: I actually like Tomboy.

Overheard: “I think this projector made me blind. I’m ok with that.” – dude who was standing front row right in front of one of the audience-facing projectors.

Photos by Jake Moore