Monday, Oakland’s Fox Theater opened its doors to greet a hungry crowd not ready to let the weekend go yet, as Animal Collective returned to the Bay Area under the wings of Painting With, their latest studio album. The last time the band from Baltimore was in town was for the 2013 edition of Treasure Island Music Festival, where I was able to see them for the first time. With the show taking place indoors at the beautiful Fox and featuring a new album that has a much “poppier” sound, I was curious to hear the result.
To warm things up, Ratking jumped on stage at 8pm sharp. The New York hip hop trio is to rap as Animal Collective is to pop. Their unique form of rap was filled with electronic beats and quickly captured the crowd, many of them already familiar with the act. Singer/rapper Wiki moved around the stage like a shark in a cage while performing songs from their 2014 LP, So it Goes.
At 9:15, it was Animal Collective’s turn and, as Panda Bear, Geologist and Avey Tare took their respective positions, a weird, trippy party began. The stage was decorated with dadaist and Picasso-looking images, full of color, in line with the sound of their new album. The band chose to play mostly new cuts off Painting With, probably to the dismay of some fans hoping to hear hits from previous albums. From the Merriweather Post Pavillon era, the only song chosen for the night was “Daily Routine”, which was received with great joy from the audience. But even though their most well-known hits were missing from the setlist, nobody seemed to be disappointed with the high energy show. Perhaps because AC has never been the type of band to rely on old classics, so the expectations were set accordingly. Or perhaps because Painting With is another great album filled with songs that the listeners are eager to hear live. Or perhaps the energy from their shows is enough. No matter what is the reason, the show delivered and people were happy. No matter what setlist, an AC concert is an experience that goes beyond the music.