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Animal instinct

Arts & Life Editor

Published: Monday, April 18, 2005

Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11


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Animal Collectives singer Dave Portner sports a pair of sunglasses thrown to him by a fan during Thursday nights performance at Big Orbit Sound Lab.

On Thursday at Big Orbit Sound Lab, Animal Collective played an unforgettable show, while supporting act Ariel Pink played a show most people who went will try hard to forget.

The concert at Big Orbit in downtown Buffalo started off with an announcement that Ariel Pink was having van troubles, and would be arriving late. Unfortunately, this was the first in a slew of problems that plagued Ariel Pink throughout the night.

Animal Collective brought their blend of demented folk melodies to the stage, with overwhelming approval from the audience. An equally frenzied stage act was the perfect companion to their disjointed, sporadic instrumentals.

They proved to be wholly original, incorporating a sound that has been dubbed "folktronica," combining elements of traditional folk harmonies with distortion pedals and samplers.

To call Animal Collective intense performers would be an understatement. During the track "We Tigers," from their 2004 album "Sung Tongs," bassist Josh Dibb and Brian Weitz on samples sounded and moved like a possessed dog.

Many of the lyrics were so distorted by sequencers that the listener was left to decipher the content based solely on the stuttering melodies and rhythmic chanting.

During "Slippi," from their 2003's "Here Comes the Indian," drummer Noah Lennox played a beat on his three-piece drum set that resembled a drum-and-bass dance track. Their music would constantly shift from psychedelic guitar freak-outs to rhythmic beats that were tribal in character.

The highlight of the show was richly gifted lead singer Dave Portner who, along with Noah Lennox, produced vocals reminiscent of The Beach Boys.

This is most notable on "College," during which his syrupy sound is a close relative to the falsetto crooning of The Beach Boys. What makes them special is a lack of traditional song structure, giving their songs an improvisational dream-like quality.

After a lengthy set by Animal Collective, and after differing reports about whether or not they were coming, Ariel Pink finally arrived.

A band accompanied Ariel Pink, hand-picked by Animal Collective for their label Paw-Tracks. It was an experimental but confusing choice to have Ariel Pink as support - experimental in the sense of possessing all the requisite rigmarole in their sound, but none of the reason.

Their sound was a bizarre amalgamation of samples, drum loops, miscellaneous other pre-recorded sounds and live guitar.

Perhaps due to their late arrival, lead member Ariel Rosenberg was overwrought and abusive, clearly aggravating his band mates. After constantly berating them for equipment issues during sound check, they unexpectedly began their set with no prior warning.

Regrettably, Rosenberg committed the ultimate faux pas by standing with his back to the audience for the duration of the show.

If this was not enough to alienate the audience from his performance, the patchy, garbled music finished the job. By the end of the first song, a previously full venue thinned out to 15 people standing by the stage.

Rosenberg's attitude seemed fitting to his music. He seemed to be performing it for himself. His music was so unintelligible, he might as well have been.

Despite the disappointment of their supporting act, Animal Collective's blissful sonic landscape truly proved they are a sui generis force that music sorely needs.

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