Animal Collective consumes the Fox Theater for their “Centipede Hz” tour 2012

Nearly a week after their September 21st Fox Theater performance, I am still reeling from the first night of Animal Collective’s double header in Oakland. The Friday night show was my first time experiencing the band live. I tried but in no way could have been able to mentally prepare for the concert spectacle, which the band has come to be known for over the past twelve years. The current tour highlighting their ninth full length release, “Centipede Hz” is one that showcases venues indicative of their veteran status. With appearances scheduled for the Pitchfork Music Festival, Australia’s “ Big Day Out” as well as various museums and large scale music halls throughout it’s European stretch, I felt fortunate to have caught them in such a beautiful location as the Fox Theater, Oakland.

Upon entering the theater’s lobby, you could feel the electricity in the air. With the venue reaching capacity and opener Micachu and the Shapes finishing their set, AC fans started scampering wildly through the hallways further heightening the anticipation ever present amongst the crowd. Although opinions are subjective on where the best place to view the stage is at this theater, I chose to opt for general admission. After entering into the lower level and further positioning myself above the swarming bodies in the pit, I couldn’t have felt better about my position and subsequent immersion w/in the masses. The demographic ranging from burners’ still shaking off playa dust to UC undergrads dressed to the nines, I immediately was entertained by the diverse range and obscurely wide spectrum of responses the show inevitably was about to evoke.

As a long time fan, I of course had my preferences for the potential set list ahead. Knowing that they were going to obviously focus on cuts from “Centipede Hz” I previewed the tracks beforehand extensively. As for the rest of the audience, those not familiar with the new material were definitely thrown for a loop. Hitting hard w/four brand new tracks back to back in a dizzying array of vocal ranges and improvisational jam sessions, the band immediately set the tone for the rest of the evening ‘s plan to desensitize even the most seasoned concert goers. The complex electronic arrangements interlaced w/tribal drum beats, pulsing baselines and static noise conclusions to most of the songs on the new album, made way for near perfect transitions between the opening tracks “Rosie Oh,” “Today’s Supernatural,” and “Wide Eyed.” After asserting their presence, the band shifted over into more lighthearted material, with the next song off of “Centipede HZ,” the playful homage to the simplicities of childhood, “Applesauce.” This led straight into the funk driven A-side off of their 7” of the same name “Honeycomb,” which got great response from the partially disseminated crowd.

Laughing I turned to a girl whom I’d been watching through my peripheral vision. Deducting she felt the same way I did through her abhorrent body language directed at the current surrounding crowd of underage hipster hookers, I reassured her that the band’s play list will clear out the amateurs soon enough. A notion which was only to be further punctuated by the next song on the bill, an old school crowd favorite from 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavillion, “Lion In A Coma.” Sending the pit into a frenzy, the prevalent sound of the didgeridoo vibrated skin of anyone within 100 feet of the stage while the entire crowd amidst screaming the chanted chorus was bouncing along in a cohesive pogo clusterfuck. Following after in the same pop centric manner, two more tracks from the 2012 release, “Moonjock,” and “Father Time,” which effortlessly segued into the shows second half. Both songs, continuing in the same vein of dance driven, lyrically decipherable, melodic gems with opportunities for vocal improvisation and band interaction. Whereas the boys were almost lost amongst the musical chaos, set design and incredible light show in the first half, at this point they took full command of the stage and subsequently their audience. Dancing with each other and losing themselves in the moment, you could tell that they were enjoying their performance as well as spatial capacity contributing to their view point from on stage.

Slowing down the dance party briefly, the band then transitioned into “New Town Burnout.” Another track off of “Centipede HZ,” the song creates a strong jam based musical atmosphere furthermore aiding in the dispersal of those strictly present for the high energy commercial AC hits. At this point the hardcore fans were amped and rightfully so, because not only were they aware of the dynamic ending of the said track but correspondingly the possibility of it escalating into a full blown party block. As anticipated the cut blended perfectly into another song off of the new album, (which in turn becomes more of an extension of the predecessor), “Monkey Riches.” Which at that point in time was flawlessly correspondent w/the crowd dynamic of the evening, allowing for truly fervent fans to be front and center for the explosively climactic track of the evening “Brothersport.” Beyond the mind blowing light show and overwhelming intensity of the screaming crowd sing along, the band took it even further by playing the extended bridge version of the song. Leaving every person present at that moment feeling as though they might combust w/unprecedented excitation during the monster build up mid song.

The concert then ended with the crowd marching to the beat of “Peacebone,” an old school crowd favorite from the 2007 album, “Strawberry Jam.” In no way could they have culminated on such an upbeat and obviously unfinished note, which shortly there after they remedied with an encore of “Cobwebs,” into “My Girls,” finishing the night off w/ “Amanita.” Solidly coming to a much more mellow conclusion, through two older tracks known mostly for their mainstream appeal and one of the few mellower songs off of the new album to round it all out.

Beyond the incredibly professional execution of their performance and incomparable sound/musical talent. The set design for this tour was one derived of beautiful nightmares, hitting the Animal Collective ambiance nail right on the head. The band staged itself dead center in the middle of giant teeth with Burton-esque inflatable tentacles growing around them at all angles, intermittently dispersed among glowing floor based stalagmites. All of which only was further accentuated by various psychedelic images being projected on their surface along w/a rainbow’s array of light fixtures. Needless to say they didn’t spare on the design budget while still managing to create a remarkably unique and encapsulating experience.

Ultimately I left the Fox Theater that night not only satisfied but hungry for more, talking with friends on the BART ride back home about how we were going to try and find tickets for the following night’s performance. If they delivered that magnitude of a show the first night, what more could they have in store for the closing Northern California date? Although, I didn’t in fact make it out for the second evening, I can’t wait for them to come back and grace the Bay Area with their presence once more. I’m surprised I’ve waited that long to have seen them in the first place and now an only confirming my future reservation for all upcoming performances within my vicinity. If you get a chance to check them out in a town near you, be sure to do so with an open mind and sense of adventure. For all those who are already fans, don’t let yourself miss them it’s an experience like no other.

Check out the full set list for the September 21st show w/soundbites.

For further info and artist interviews done by yours truly, click here.
-Molly Kish


  1. so descriptive…great post


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