The band brought this ridiculous and oddly beautiful stage setup to Kansas City seven months later than initially planned. The band's entire spring tour was sidelined by de facto frontman Avey Tare's (David Portner) severe case of strep throat. The Pitch had the opportunity to speak with band member Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) prior to that planned show; at the time, he mentioned that the band was at an interesting place in time to be touring, in that there isn't a brand new record, and that opened the band up to essentially play whatever they wanted. This was the case last night.
Whether recorded or live, the band has never been interested in making it easy on their listeners. 2012's Centipede Hz is a particularly tough listen - the heavy use of samples, unusual meter and a lack of traditional song structure was an abrupt change from the (relatively) melodic Merriweather Post Pavilion.
But that was the point. Animal Collective is great because it is unafraid to alienate or be embraced by anyone, fans or not, and particularly live, the unabashed use of percussion, electronics, challenging time signatures and sprawling vocals creates a lovely melee of confusion and sound. Last night's Midland audience did get more in the style of Centipede than Merriweather - and the crowd seemed okay with it.
Last night's highlight was easily "Purple Bottle," the last song before the band came back for its encore - Avey Tare was screaming, Panda Bear was singing, and Deakin (Josh Dibb) was furiously drumming. It was affirming - and with the slow, meandering encore, probably would have made a better closer. I would loved to have heard "For Reverend Green" or "Peacebone," but Animal Collective never has been and likely never will be a band that plays the hits. Maybe next time. Hopefully there will be a next time.