Experimental pop group Animal Collective performed at The Depot on Wednesday, March 2nd, as part of their international tour that will include places such as Milan, Brussels and Barcelona. Positioned on the outer fringe of popular music, Animal Collective have made their mark through unconventional sounds, beats and singing. While certainly bizarre to the uninitiated, Animal Collective have actually been around since 1999, formed in Baltimore, MD and actually created their own label to distribute their music. The band has come a long way since their basement roots.
Opening the evening was rap group Ratking out of New York City and featuring rapper/producers Wiki and Sporting Life. While their start was a little uncertain, both men hit their stride by the third song and delivered their lyrics with energy and conviction. Unlike more mainstream rap, Ratking chooses to utilize multi-layered beats and a variety of sounds to create the fabric of their music. Their set was filled with songs reflecting on life, and its difficulties, and both Wiki and Sporting Life were very lively in their delivery – you could tell that their words came from the heart. At the end, Wiki left the stage and Sporting Life freestyled on his setup, producing technical beats and heartbeat deep bass.
When Animal Collective took the stage, their decoration of the stage was full of garish, whimsical statues and paintings. As the music started, the stage was lit with a cornucopia of light effects and designs. With one drummer, the other performers each had their own station that was loaded with computer boards, various pedals and a spaghetti explosion of wires coming off the table. Each song they performed had multiple layers to it, and while there were two to three singing simultaneously, they weren’t necessarily harmonizing or backing each other. Each voice had complexity and complemented the overall sound of the band. Labeled as “experimental pop,” they definitely fit the definition, as their songs featured strange timbre and meter, and didn’t always follow any real structure. Enthusiastic ’til the end, Animal Collective played a great set and were lavished with a warm reception from the audience.