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03/08/2004: "last friday."

So I saw Animal Collective again on Friday, hoping that it would be a repeat of the transcendent Knitting Factory show a few weeks back. It seemed like a perfect night to see them; it was thin-jacket weather, and the sky was thick with mist. The show was in a really remote, semi-deserted area of Brooklyn. When my friend and I finally got to the venue, getting somewhat lost in the process, the band was still setting up and the venue was about 3/4 packed. Though the space was very cool, the stage was a little wider and more 'rock-show'-y than I'd imagined. When I last saw them, I watched from a distance on the upper level, so it was easier to absorb the full gestalt of the sound. I stood in the front row, watching them set up precarious stacks of electronics, amps, Minidisc players, everything arranged just so, and seeing all that nervous preparation destroyed the mystique a little. It all felt in pieces rather than a whole -- the clotted tangles of wires, messy rows of effects pedals, the piercing buzz of an amp. Panda Bear spilled half a bottle of Red Stripe on the stage, very narrowly missing the mixing board, and freaked out when a Minidisc, central to the next song, fell on the ground. My eyes were burning a bit from the many sticks of incense burning from one side of the stage (hippies!), and it was hard to tune out the loud background hum of people buying beer and talking during the set. The band played a lot of the same stuff they played at the Knit, but here it felt different; the sound felt uncomfortable and cramped instead of effortless and spacious, confused instead of confident. But that's the thing about the music they make -- their loose improvisational feel is actually highly controlled to the point of pinpoint precision, and if even one ingredient of their volatile sonic mixture goes missing, the whole set comes crashing down. So it was a mixed bag, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and many of the arty Brooklynites in attendance -- several still, by the looks of it, badly electroclashed inna 2002 stylee -- seemed enraptured by the free-form weirdness of the show.


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