Animal Collective at the Hollywood Bowl, a Symphony of Synesthesia

Animal Collective always has a special place in my heart. The Baltimore bred band started from humble beginnings, and — while their wikipedia page says “they are currently based in New York City, Los Angeles and Lisbon” they perhaps are most comfortable just hanging out with their homies jamming out divine wisdom. Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? I’ll let you ruminate that question over some winter’s love.

While this classic comes from their best album, Sung Tongs, you might have to wrap your mind around Campfire Songs. They recorded it  in one take while outside on a porch in Maryland. According to Panda Bear:

We had had the idea of doing something really warm and inviting-sounding for a while, like three or four years at least. We wanted it to sound like a campfire feels and I think that also made us think of campfire songs that you can sing with a bunch of people and everybody gets connected and feels good and safe. It really wasn’t spontaneous or improvised [...]. We worked for a month or so to get it just right like the transitions between songs. I still think Queen Of My Pictures into Doggy is one of the best things we’ve done together. I was really excited about my singing on Campfire Songs, I guess because I felt like I was doing things that were difficult for me to do.

The album isn’t very easy to get into, but once you do it’s a trip. For something a bit more accessible you can try Feels, which contains the greatest love song of all time, Purple Bottle. Feels is by far their most Pop album, but we’re not here to talk about Feels, pop, or really any album in general (read: Animal Collective just released a new album and it rocks).

This story is selfishly about my obsessive love for Animal Collective.

I met my girlfriend of 5+ years, Jessie, at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Our love for the collective made us connect with each other even more. We’d sing Purple Bottle together while in bed, sometimes drunk sometimes not — always with the screaming parts included. My creative writing senior thesis featured the song in a synesthetic scene of burning paint and haunting ghosts.

I’ve seen these guys play twice before. Both times for free :). The first was in the McCarren Park dried up pool in Brooklyn. The second show was at the South Street Seaport. Let me see if I can scrounge up old Facebook photos of the event and post them here. Aha, I have an album on Facebook titled NYC Animal Collective. Perfect.

I apologize for the quality of the images but they were taken with an iPhone 3gs. Anyways yeah. They rocked my socks off, but at the same time I think were more vulnerable. It was a band who used these shows to experiment on, exploring new sounds and jams for possible new albums. We were happy to be their guinea pigs.

I first moved out to Los Angeles two years ago. While working at a Social Media company in Venice I saw an Animal Collective Facebook post about a signature style shoe by the one and only Keep. I immediately copped myself a pair of Avey Tare Ghosts.

These were so comfortable that I had to buy a few more pairs of Keeps just because. I’ve got a couple of bentons and homers. When I moved to Fairfax village at the start of the year I knew I had to meet up with the founder of Keep (their store is on North Fairfax, ~3 minute walk from my apartment) Una Kim. I took her out to eat at the Golden State and we talked about business. The relevant part of the story is that she actually grew up with Animal Collective. For me to have met someone in their inner circle is some weird twist of fate for which I’m certainly thankful.


What I witnessed last night at the Bowl was something completely new. Even their older songs like Lion in a Coma were played uniquely remastered. They came in with a new confidence and presentation that blew the minds off of everyone in the amphitheater. I believe they rewarded the accumulated energy with 2 encores.

Photocredit: Wesley Hodges

So yeah. A giant monster mouth centipede light show thingie. It was amazing. Each part of the floor was painted with different colored lights, essentially performing a sensory overloaded ball pit of symphony. It was literally a live reincarnation of the music video for My Girls. For your reference:

Colors and sounds mixed, mashed, and clashed in this illusory state of consciousness. Somebody behind us said it was modern-psychedelic. Whatever it is, they’ve certainly mastered their swag and have transformed themselves into an act that must be seen by everyone, regardless of taste.

The performance transcended into a category like cirque-du-solei. A complete visceral experience that places your consciousness into it’s own wonderland.

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