By Rusty Gorelick
Boston University News Service
I headed to Paradise Rock Club not knowing what to expect from one of the most eclectic, experimental bands of the 21st century. I hoped to hear the best of their newest album paired with classics, but I knew to expect the unexpected based on the band’s discography.
Animal Collective performed in support of its new album, “Time Skiffs,” in front of a sold-out Paradise Rock Club last night.
The experimental rock group, consisting of members David “Avey Tare” Portner, Noah “Panda Bear” Lennox, Joshua “Deakin” Dibb, and Brian “Geologist” Weitz, started as Baltimore-area high school friends with unconventional music tastes. Their onstage setup reflects that: Panda Bear, Avey Tare, and Deakin swapped lead singer roles throughout, Geologist wore a headlamp to see his beat pad and synthesizer, Avey Tare swapped bass guitars a few times, and Deakin switched between keyboard and guitar.
“Cherokee,” “Time Skiffs’” sixth track, opened the show on a psychedelic note, followed by a pair of unreleased tracks titled “Soul Capturer” and “Broke Zodiac,” according to Setlist.fm.
The Baltimore band then played a run of hits from “Time Skiffs” — “Car Keys,” “Prester John,” and “Dragon Slayer” — to cap off its excellent opening jam session. The background visuals looked great, as expected from this particular band.
A pair of unreleased ballads brought the vibe down over 20 minutes in the middle of the show. Titled “Genie’s Open” and “Defeat (Not A Suite),” the songs relied on lyrics to convey their respective points, and the sound system at Paradise is not conducive to that. The pair of songs also subverted what makes Animal Collective great, which is the group’s ability to use voices as instruments and weave sounds together that, simply put, do not belong together.
The mood increased when Animal Collective played “In The Flowers,” the first track from their influential and critically-acclaimed 2009 album, “Merriweather Post Pavilion.” While the songs on “Time Skiffs” move and shift like a river journey, “Merriweather Post Pavilion” tracks feel like a wall of sound.
They continued with some earlier — and nerdier — work to close out the show. This is a good time to mention that in addition to Geologist’s awesome headlamp, Deakin looked like he came straight from a 9-to-5 job to perform in his blue button-down shirt. That is a compliment.
“Chores,” from the 2007 album “Strawberry Jam,” followed “In The Flowers.” They played “Strung With Everything” from “Time Skiffs” between “Chores” and “Applesauce” from the 2012 album “Centipede Hz,” which closed out the main set.
I haven’t even mentioned what might have been the highlight of the performance. The bridges between songs served as an opportunity for the band to show off how good they are at making music. Many of the bridges reminded me of the first 45 seconds of the song “Peacebone,” which opens “Strawberry Jam.” It was not performed at Paradise, but you could hear its influence in the way the band’s jams built up and slowly morphed into actual songs.
The crowd applauded after the guys set down their instruments and left the stage abruptly. I still wanted to hear “My Girls,” the most popular song from “Merriweather Post Pavilion.” I think everyone did.
After an ovation lasting a few minutes, the band returned for an encore as Avey Tare thanked the crowd. Two unreleased tracks — the first of which consisted of a lot of moaning by Avey Tare and Panda Bear — preceded “The Purple Bottle” from the 2005 album “Feels.”
No “My Girls.” Not even “Summertime Clothes,” “For Reverend Green,” “Who Could Win A Rabbit,” “Also Frightened,” or “Lion in a Coma.” That was a bummer. But it was characteristically Animal Collective: weird, different from what was expected, and jam-heavy.