Tuesday night brought Panda Bear out of the Coachella Valley to San Francisco for an intimate performance at the sold out Independent. Panda Bear, aka Noah Lennox of Animal Collective, not only captivates his audience with his music, but also with a kaleidoscopic visual display of swirling colors and images projected on a screen, and on Panda Bear himself.
All songs were from his newest album, Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper, and from 2011’s Tomboy. I found myself getting lost staring at the visuals, trying to decipher exactly what I was seeing on the screen as snakes morphed into strawberries, which quickly twisted into flowers, all while Panda Bear masterfully blended his tracks with his dynamic and distinctive vocals. Every few songs, four large strobe lights would disorient the packed venue, adding to the feeling of being truly lost in the performance.
Panda Bear remained still for the whole show, rendering himself as a part of the backdrop on which the visual art of Danny Perez was displayed. Watching Panda Bear was like watching an artist in the act of creating their art– and there just happened to be a crowd present.
During “Faces in the Crowd” and “Come to Your Senses,” Panda Bear sang with a chill inducing, powerful sustain that was not heard in the previous songs, and set the precedent for the rest of the performance. The complete show was more of an exhibit; strange, hypnotic, relaxing, a little gross at one point when a clip of a bald woman joyfully vomiting was looped over and over, and it made you forget where you were. Panda Bear gave the crowd a rare and provocative experience, one that resonates long after the lights come back on.
Photos by Leticia Molina
“Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker”
“This Side of Paradise”
“Faces in the Crowd”
“Come to Your Senses”
“Tropic of Cancer”