It’s been over a year since Dave Portner – the yelping member of Animal Collective better known as Avey Tare – released his crocodile-inspired solo debut Down There (Paw Tracks). Maybe Tare needed to spend some time away from the songs that dealt with divorce, death, and illness, as he only recently set out on tour in support of the album. He finished his brief solo tour on Sunday night at Oakland’s New Parish, and I couldn’t wait to finally check him out.
The dismal grey weather was well-suited to Tare’s dark and murky debut. A youthful crowd clad in an unsettling amount of lumberjack plaid filled the venue. Onstage was a creepy Yoda skeleton and a white sequined cloth-draped table with a few baby crocodiles placed around several electronic instruments.
Tare began by blasting the audience with a discordant burst of noise. In the spirit of Animal Collective, the set that followed was comprised of several new, unreleased songs interspersed with selections from Down There. Animal Collective is known to routinely perform new material prior to putting it out, so it seems only natural that the band’s primary songwriter would engage in a similar backwards album cycle.
New songs like “Slow Words” and a track fans are tentatively referring to as “Sometimes” were bright and bubbly with Tare’s passionate, yelping vocals at the forefront. As with all things Animal Collective, there were plenty of repetitive, primal rhythms and colorful samples. Tare seemed well acquainted with the new stuff, which is (hopefully) indicative of a follow-up to Down There in the not so distant future.
For me, watching an artist breath new life into songs I know and love is the highlight of any performance. Given the sonic complexity of Tare’s material, it was tough digesting all the newness without something familiar to latch onto. I was thrilled whenever one of his unknown offerings blossomed seamlessly into a track from Down There. The ambling, accordion-driven “Laughing Hieroglyphic,” the swampy, synth-heavy “Lucky 1,” and a pulsing “Oliver Twist” were the shining moments of Tare’s set. I didn’t get to dance as much as I would have liked. Instead, I watched in awe as Tare toyed with his gear and sang with fervid intensity.
Opener: I often describe bands as energetic, but L.A.’s Foot Village made every performance I’ve seen before look like a geriatric yoga class in comparison. The four tribal noise rockers beat on a giant cluster of drum kits while two members took turns shouting incoherently into a megaphone. Held over a floor tom, the same megaphone produced a sound unlike anything I’ve heard. The band’s only female member, Grace Lee (who removed her pants after the opening song), stole the show by convulsing wildly, whipping a rope light around, and knocking down a speaker twice her size.
All photos by Wolfgangg Photography.