On Friday, May 6 Animal Collective played at Marathon Music Works in Nashville, TN.  The Baltimore-based psychedelic rockers have really hit a stride in their Painting With tour, as indicated by some stark contrasts from earlier performances on the same tour leg.

The opening act was analog synth composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.  The solo female artist played a soft, dancy DJ set while speaking into a vocoder, creating noises that sometimes resembled actual words.  The sonic soundscape she created was beautiful and very flowy.  I heard a fellow attendee draw comparisons to her set as what Dan Deacon might create if he were a mermaid, I tend to agree.

Set opener Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

Earlier in the tour the boys seemed to be lacking something in the set, whether is was the departure of long-time band mate Josh “Deakin” Dibbs or just the beginning of them playing new tunes, the set just hadn’t come together yet, but all that has changed.  The stage design has also evolved, incorporating new, projected visuals as well as wood-cut eyes and other symbols that hang from the venue ceiling, complimenting the ever-changing kaleidoscopic backdrop.  Still accompanying the band on stage are three large heads that look like stone Easter Island statues if they were designed by Pablo Picasso.

Animal Collective Performs at Nashville’s Marathon Music Works

From the opening notes of the first song of the night, “Bagels in Kiev,” you could tell the band had worked out the kinks.  This was especially evident in the song transitions, allowing the band to play continuously with no breaks in the music.  I enjoy when the band gets into a transition groove and you hear that slight tease of the next track and can listen as the sounds build on top of each other until the song is finally “assembled” the vocals kick in.  During song transitions the visuals became darker, more ominous and began to venture into ODDSAC territory as the backdrop began to look almost like bloody guts pulsating in a humanistic fashion before exploding back into a rainbow of color.

Panda Bear and Avey Tare prove once again to be an inseparable duo, as noticed when they trade off lyrics in rapid succession, coordinating their words in an impressive display of vocal hocketing.  Jeremy Hyman is still replacing Panda behind the drums, playing as tight as ever.

Panda & Avey Trading Off Vocal Duties

During the set, Animal Collective drew heavily from Painting With, with Set highlights including the new EP-track “Gnip Gnop,” a twisted, warped version of “Jimmy Mack” a Martha Reeves and The Vandellas cover, the Merriweather Post Pavillon standout “Daily Routine” and a couple beautiful deep cuts such as “Bees” and “Alvin Row” that left the crowd elated and a bit nostalgic.


Bagels in Kiev

Lying in the Grass

Gnip Gnop

Daily Routine


Jimmy Mack (Martha Reeves and The Vandellas cover)

Summing the Wretch

Alvin Row

Loch Raven

The Burglars



On Delay

Golden Gal