September 11th, a day that was spent in a variety of ways by New Yorkers, but to all it meant something different, and the same. One thing that brought us together in a visual way were the two beautiful beams of light that permeated the place where the towers once stood, which were visible from pretty much every borough, as long as you could get to a rooftop. For me, there was no better way to pay homage to 9-11 than to spend the night surrounded by dreamy, soulful music on governor’s island, which is about a mile off of South Ferry. I donned my face paint and got ready for a trippy night. Playing was Teengirl Fantasy, Gala Drop, and Panda Bear. This was a concert that many Panda fans had been waiting years to see.
An overrated synth band that feels only vaguely authentic due to the amount of music they sample. We got here by ferry about halfway through their set, which never really took off, according to the crowd’s reaction- most people were pretty eager for the set to end to be one band closer to Panda Bear. Their set was dreamy if not minimal, but the occasional lush melody enhanced the coast-like quality of their tunes.
Panda must have picked up this synth-jam band in their mutual home of Portugal, because they are very unknown in the USA. If they continue to tour the states, however, they will turn heads. Their sound, an enveloping, percussion-based rainbow of sounds, from tribal beats to shoegaze vocals, is only fattened by (dan) deacon-like synth melodies. The sound is truly unique, and really worked when paired with Panda Bear, who plays off of the similar atmospheric background noise that they sample in their sound.
Known professionally as Noah Lennox, Panda Bear has been a vital part of the indie-experimental music scene with his contributions to Animal Collective’s albums, and his spectacular Person Pitch of 2007. This solo album turned the world of AC and non-AC fans alike on its head. The album is, from beginning to end, one long analog journey through space, time, and your dream world. The power of this album is indescribable- highly repetitive loops guide the listener through loop-holes of sound to discover the chanting vocals of Lennox, echoing over contagious beats- this is where music is its most free. This album was thought of as the primary inspiration for AC’s 2009 Merriweather Post Pavillion, which is highly regarded as their best. Fans have been eagerly waiting, fingers crossed, for Lennox to get going on another album, and this past summer, two songs from his upcoming (release date undecided) Tomboy, entitled Tomboy and Slow Motion. Neither captured my heart the way Person Pitch’s “Take Pills” or “Bros” had, but that was before I experienced them live.
Panda Bear live was, indeed, a kind of spiritual experience, and that’s not just the church bells speaking. It evoked mixed feelings in me, and though it was moving, I couldn’t help feeling a little underwhelmed. The setlist was one long song, patched together by many melodies fading into each other. Panda started with an Animal Collective song, “Daily Routine,” which got the crowd excited, but he teased us- slowing it down to the point that it was almost hard to dance to- and never picking it up to play it to album speed. He immediately jumped into Tomboy afterwards, whose songs took a beautiful shape live, but again, it was hard to tell necessarily what these songs will actually sound like when he releases them, because he was taking his time going off on vocal tangents, making the crowd squirm with anticipation for the chorus or a steady beat. Never having heard most of the songs, this was a great venue to premiere them. His new album contains a similarly-infectious energy, but tends to seem darker and more dramatic with less ambient noise and more recognizable noise samples.
If Person Pitch felt like it was underwater, Tomboy is where we wash up of the shore.
Disappointing was the amount of material he did not include from Person Pitch, playing off of only two songs, “Comfy In Nautica” and “Ponytail,” arguably not the best or fan favorites from his previous album. The best way to take in the concert was gazing into the psychedelic smoke or with eyes closed- focussing on and enjoying the slow-crawl of the sound and trying not to expect more than he was going to give. His vocal power is incredible- it carried every moment of the show. Don’t get me wrong, it was a show I will always remember, but the entire time it felt like he was teasing us, never giving the crowd 100% of a song, but instead 70%, and 30% to make it suited to his live persona. The concert, at its best, was hypnotizing, and at its worst, hypnotizingly slow. All in all, I still love Panda Bear, I cannot wait for Tomboy, which I know will blow our minds, again.
Check out this amazing video
, an amazing tracklist of some songs played at the concert.