Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Panda Bear @ The Music Hall of Williamsburg (7.3.2010)

Panda Bear played this past Sunday at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. The show felt like a bit of a victory lap (in a good way!) for Panda's recent release, Tomboy. He played, for the first time, the tracks in the same order as they appeared on the album. On top of that, he also collaborated with Sonic Boom/Pete Kember of Spaceman 3 (the producer of the album) for the show. Pete added samples and sounds to give the songs the complete feel they had on the album. Danny Perez was also on stage, adding his perfectly fitting projections to the music. He also had two projectors shining light out onto the crowd, completing the surreal environment. The effect was to make you feel lost in the music, especially during the more droney sections between songs

We were both pretty excited to get to see PB again, especially with this show being a bit different from the previous Tomboy concerts (see Governor's Island). I've always liked the Music Hall of Williamsburg; the crowd is really into the music and the venue feels intimate.

Ducktails, the opener, were good overall but after a few songs they felt a little 'samesy' to me. Each song had a similar pace and structure so they started to bleed together in my mind. It was nice hearing Killing the Vibe live though. Part of me really wanted Panda Bear to bust out on stage and add his 'la la la's from the single version.

The set started out great. Panda opened with an extended intro to You Can Count On Me, repeating a few of the opening words and strumming his guitar while Sonic added bells and other atmospheric sounds. The slow opening made the opening beat all the better when it finally dropped. Tomboy (the song) also sounded more powerful than usual thanks to a stronger bass beat. During some of the other songs, Noah seemed more tentative than usual, perhaps due to playing the songs in a new way.

He played Alsatian Darn live for the first time during the show, but struggled with feedback during some of the key parts of the song. It got bad enough that he skipped a verse completely and noticeably cringed. It also seemed to me that certain parts (the 'Got to do, what you've got to do' section) could have used stronger backing vocals. I also am not a big fan of the Tomboy tracklisting and felt like its weaknesses showed during the concert. Having Count on Me open never felt right to me, nor did having Drone smack in the middle of the set (following the momentum building Last Night at the Jetty no less). It also made the set predictable and took out the element of surprise that is usually present at Animal Collective and Panda Bear concerts. I also felt the sound was a bit overloaded, leading to a lot of blare-y sounds and a lack of crispness. I would chalk this up to Noah and Pete playing a show for the first time together and wouldn't expect it to be an issue in the future.

It was great hearing the tracks in their album forms live though. Scheherazade was played in its stripped album form for the first time live, and Friendship Bracelet, my personal favorite from Tomboy, was played for the first time since the first handful of Tomboy concerts and in fuller form than in the past. Overall though, the songs sounded strong, and it was great hearing the album played in a complete fashion.

We went up to the center balcony to record the show, but unfortunately had a bit of a mishap. The gain switch accidentally got flipped from low to medium, essentially ruining our recording : ( Luckily, Alex (humangr00ve from Collected Animals) came to our rescue. He recorded the show using a minidisc with a binaural church audio stealth microphone while standing to the side of the soundboard. He had to switch the discs out a few times during the set, so there are a few short sections that are missing. The raw recording captured a bit of crowd noise and was flat, included some pops and crackles, and can be somewhat 'crunchy.' We did our best to bring the sounds to the front of the recording using Logic. As a result, the recording isn't at the same level as the others we've had on our blog, but we're glad to have a recording of the night. In all likelihood, bootleg collectors will hang on to this one, but most of you will just skim through it to get a feel for the night. Thanks again Alex!

Set List:
1. You Can Count On Me
2. Tomboy
3. Slow Motion
4. Surfers Hymn
5. Last Night At The Jetty
6. Drone
7. Alsatian Darn
8. Scheherazade
9. Friendship Bracelet (beginning missing)
10. Afterburner (end missing)
11. Benfica (beginning missing)
12. Ponytail
13. Comfy In Nautica

Alsatian Darn:

Download the live recording HERE (password=twosails)

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