Concert Review: Animal Collective at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatere
by Groove Girl // PB & Jams
With various solo projects, moves overseas, and COVID happening all along the life paths for this long-time experimental group, the original members of Animal Collective haven’t played together for some time. With the announcement of this particular tour a few months back, loyal fans of the group instantly bought out the lawn tickets within a few minutes. As a humble WUSC DJ living in Cola town, Asheville is only a mere three hours from my apartment, so I scooped up general admission before those were gone too.
Driving into Asheville, I tried guessing if anyone walking down the street would be going to the concert. Asheville, being one of the most eclectic towns on the east coast, and I could see just about anybody blasting “For Reverend Greene” through their earbuds.
We got there early to find a parking spot beside the venue, the magical little Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre, and instantly felt enchanted by the vibes of the approaching night. People were lounging in the fields surrounding the stage, looking up at the sky or sharing stories with strangers. A cheery looking couple moved large bubble wands throughout the air. There was a guy painting a face onto a large canvas for people to admire. It was a very welcoming and creative space.
We took our seats about the fourth row back from the stage, and sat on the grass with everyone else. The amphitheater looks like an old Shakespearean playhouse, and was partially covered by a white tarp (soon to be used in the show.)
The four main members of Animal Collective took the stage just as the sun was setting, a little past 8pm, and began playing a popular song off of Merriweather Post Pavilion “In the Flowers”. It was a welcome intro, (and actually one of the few previously released songs they played throughout the night.)
Instantly people stood up to dance to the music. The iconic visual artistry of some tiny dancers (projected onto the white tarp) flashed across their bodies as the sounds merged and come to life. The twinkle in the synth instantly made things feel euphoric, and everyone was clearly happy to be there.
Other familiar songs that were played included “Unsolved Mysteries”, “Fickle Cycle”, “The Purple Bottle”, and the encore “No More Runnin”. If you want to see the rest of the set, check it out here! The majority of the songs were off of their not-yet released new album Time Skips, which they said would be coming out within the next few months.
I have never seen Animal Collective live before, and I quickly fell in love with Avey Tare’s subtle dance moves while on bass. As the night wore on, each song blended seamlessly into the next, making for a storybook of sound complete with a mesmerizing influx of visuals to accompany it. I also loved the jazz influence behind Panda Bear’s drumming and the funky time signatures throughout the new songs.
For those that are curious, Avery Tare, the so-called “backbone” of Animal Collective, was the main singer for the night, and played bass. Panda Bear was on drums and backup vocals, Geologist (headlamp included) played the main synth instruments, and Deakin played some synth and the piano.
As they play live, I’m even more curious to see behind-the-scenes of how they work together to achieve cohesive tracks with distinctly different instruments and harmonies. I was also wondering what crank instrument Geologist would sometimes pick up and play throughout the night, and the internet tells me it maybe was a hurdy-gurdy.
As the team of four came back onto stage for an encore after their set, Deakin says he literally is about to cry. I am too.
To experience the thrill for yourself, check out the rest of Animal Collective’s tour dates here! Some of their previous best live performances, according to Vice, can be seen here too! And be sure to check out PB & jams with Groove Girl and T-Roy every Wednesday from 8-10pm!