GANG GANG DANCE with ANIMAL COLLECTIVE and ANIMAL MONSTER at Lee's Palace, November 11. Tickets: $14. Attendance: 250. Rating: NNN
Critical analysis of "experimental " bands can lead to a predicament. Heap praise on said artists and you're simply towing the party line. Dis 'em and you're exposing yourself as a closed-minded square who obviously lacks the mental capacity and/or cultural relevance to "get it."
For some of us last Thursday, this dilemma was further aggravated by a roomful of vintage-clad bohemians. It was the kind of audience that talks only during set breaks, watches each band with rapt attention and actually wears the clothing the rest of us were too chicken to buy at Goodwill.
In other words, these people "get it."
After an impressive performance of Aphex-like IDM from local electronic upstart Animal Monster , Brooklyn's Gang Gang Dance slowly set up their collection of cheapo gear and launched into a quirky and uneven set.
Vocalist Lizzi Bougatsos flapped and fluttered around onstage, garbling out elf-like gibberish and sounding like a tuneless Liz Fraser. Her incessant caterwauling was rendered even more unintelligible by a muddy mix and an overused digital delay pedal.
Sometimes the rest of the band also looked like amateurs. When the drum kit kept creeping forward due to faulty moorings, some guy jumped onstage, knelt in front of the kick drum and banged on a cowbell. Weird.
Still, they had their moments. When the drums, keyboards and electronic percussion all fell into their polyrhythmic shuffle, the result was a bizarre mix of world music, experimental craziness and electronic wizardry.
Ultimately, though, the racket was dulled by the band's proclivity to elevate the jams into disjointed noise freak-outs, which tended to kill the energy. But maybe that was the point.
In contrast, Animal Collective delivered a hi-fidelity romp through the outer realms of experi-rock. Sure, they kinda sound like a pulsating blob of transcendent technicolor, but their performance was so polished, smooth and captivating that the wackiness seemed completely appropriate.
Rather than climaxing in cacophony, AC's tunes often began with percussive noise and crescendo'd into glorious melody, punctuated by throaty vocals, bashing drums and the quartet's Hobbit-like stage moves.
Clearly, being experimental doesn't have to be a drag. Let's hope GGD were taking notes.