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Rachel Ledesma (RachelLedesma)

  • Email: ledesma@chapman.edu
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  • Registered On :2018-06-05 20:39:18
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There’s a certain look that consumes Samuel T Herring’s face after performing a song, as the lights fade and the audience stops dancing. Somewhere between gratefulness and exuberance, a momentary pause from the euphoric nature of performance, a welcoming of reality, of what it means to be together. It’s a look he gives after every song, the final expression on his face just as potent as when he first walked onto stage.

It’s a captivating honesty so rarely seen in real life, one which has set Herring apart as frontman for Future Islands, described as “one of the best live bands around” by Consequence of Sound. Because Herring takes his duty as frontman seriously; he embodies the honesty he sings. He swings his limbs, he rocks his pelvis, he beats his chest, he kisses his hand. He loses himself in passion and feeling, succumbing to his vulnerabilities before a sea of strangers’ eyes. It surpasses performance and abandons the theatrics of live music; what Herring does onstage is a raw exploration of the pain, joy and heartache Future Islands has been presenting since 2006 when the band began until now.

This is what has garnered the post-wave band a considerable following of dedicated fans; some have tattoos of Herring, others have followed the band on tour and most spot merch from the band’s earlier days. These fans gathered for the second time on a Sunday night in September at the Santa Ana Observatory, where Future Islands would return to a sold-out stage after performing just days earlier. And where, in 2014, the band played the smaller Constellation room, a 300-capacity space for up-and-coming bands Future Islands could fill ten times over today.

“We’ve been here before,” Herring sung, the first words of the night from “Grease,” off their third album, On The Water.

By the song’s end, Herring’s button-down was showing sweat stains. Three songs later—“Ran,” “Beauty of the Road” and “A Dream of You and Me”—it was drenched. But his energy remained the same. He glided across the stage, squatting to the floor, reaching into the audience, hugging fans, kicking his legs over his head, never missing a beat. He stopped only to introduce his bandmates, who often go unnoticed though they’re always heard.

It’s a common theme for the band, who, as described by their opener, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, “cares about the weirdos.”

Half way through their set, Herring reflected on the songwriting/performing process. How a song’s meaning and those attached to it evolves; how a love song becomes a goodbye. “Cuz what was gold, is gone and cold,” Herring confessed to the audience during “Cave.”

But that change is to be expected, and to Herring, is a continuous process. It’s wrapped up in the band’s most widely known song “Seasons (Waiting on You),” which still rings true, lyrically and musically, though the live song differs slightly from the original. Because the song, like its content, is kept anew by time and changes with it.

The band left the stage after the lively “Spirit,” leaving a sweat-drenched pit not ready to quit. So, after a few minutes of cheering, they made their final entrance onto stage, jumping into the cathartic “Inch of Dust” for the four-song encore. Herring paused before introducing the final song, staring past the lights into the crowd, losing himself in the distorted bass which echoed through the venue before proceeding with the once happy song, now turned sad: “Little Dreamer.”

“My little dreamer, I’ll always, always, dream of you,” Herring professed, a new look upon his face, somewhere between regret and bliss. He left the stage thanking the audience for the night, his shirt dripping, though it seemed like he could do it all over again.

But while the stage became empty, Herring’s words from earlier in the night hung in the air.

“Let go of all your prejudices. Replace them with compassion and humanity. When you leave here, take this love and know that everything you need is in your heart,” Herring said to the crowd staring back at him, cheering and applauding. “All the pieces we need are right here.”

Waxahatchee has made a name of itself–or herself, rather. Though the name belongs to a river in Alabama, Katie Crutchfield has made something new of it, which she continues to do with her unconfined musical project as Waxahatchee.

But Crutchfield wasn’t always known by the name of the lake where she grew up. She began as one-half of the Ackleys, a band formed with her twin sister, Allison (who works as a solo artist and lead on Swearin’). From there, the sisters launched P.S. Eliot, an indie-pop influenced punk band. Only after the band’s breakup did Crutchfield become Waxahatchee, writing and recording the project’s debut in a week when she returned to her childhood home. Since then, Crutchfield has released four albums under the moniker, gaining a considerable reputation for herself and signing with Merge Records.

That’s what makes Crutchfield’s latest release as Waxahatchee all the more surprising. Last year, Crutchfield released Out in the Storm, a critically acclaimed album that gained a spot on Pitchfork’s top 20 rock albums of 2017 list, and touches on vulnerability and relationships, concepts that she has explored since the project’s birth in 2011. Following the wave of success her rock album garnered, Crutchfield has decided to turn away from it all, focusing on her soft early sound with Great Thunder.

The EP is a compilation of reimagined songs written in 2012 when Crutchfield partnered with Keith Spencer and formed the lo-fi duo, Great Thunder. A lot has happened since the songs were first imagined; Crutchfield is in a completely different place career-wise and emotionally. Yet, the reworked songs sound new. Not to say Waxahatchee has abandoned her roots, but rather, has reinterpreted them, emphasizing the beauty of old and present feelings alike. “It’s a throwback to how I started,” writes Crutchfield.

And it starts with honesty. “We get comfortable with our detachment to our oldest friends,” discerns Crutchfield on “Singer’s No Star.” Though her voice is warm paired with simple piano chords, the lyrics cut deep. Crutchfield is ready to tackle the emotions she’s been processing for six years. “I cried all night when you came to my side,” Crutchfield recalls on “You’re Welcome.” We feel her pain and hear the loneliness in her voice as she speaks of the tragedy of love, hers or otherwise: “Mothers pray for a padlock on their door/Half their love is just ignored.”

Crutchfield goes deeper. Not a moment is wasted in the EP’s 17-minute runtime. She boils it all down in “Chapel of the Pines,” the emotionally-charged lead single. The song combines feelings of nostalgia and regret embodied in the question: “Will you go?” The question takes on a new meaning every time Crutchfield repeats it. She punches out “will,” then holds onto “go.” She sounds confident, then broken. And when she repeats the question for the final time, met by a brief silence soon swallowed by instrumentation, she sounds at peace. Because Crutchfield knows how the story ends. Crutchfield originally wrote the lyric as “would you go?” when her question had yet to be answered. But time has passed and Crutchfield is out the other side wiser, if not moved on. She’s accepted the answer and let it go.

But emotional maturity isn’t pretty. In “You Left Me with an Ocean,” Crutchfield recounts a toxic relationship, consisting of “swimming in garbage” and being left to pick up the pieces amongst “the dirty and the fallen.” Her devastation is audible, but not all of it is directed outward. Crutchfield takes responsibility for her actions because it’s the only way she can move on. “Cause I swam in it too,” Crutchfield admits.

Though Crutchfield has come a long way, as an individual and as Waxahatchee, she’s still growing, still reminding herself not to resort to her old ways and the pain of the past. The EP closes on “Takes So Much,” a track as cathartic as it sounds in which Crutchfield finds herself sacrificing her own happiness for another’s. “Take it out on me baby,” Crutchfield commands a lover. She’s asking to be used, the ultimate form of self-sabotage. As Crutchfield repeats her painful request, her voice breaks down until it cracks. She’s been depleted. But that doesn’t mean she’s empty. Far from it—she’s overflowing as Waxahatchee. She’s unbound by style or sound and set free by her songwriting which has proven itself to be timeless.

Blood Orange loves voices. Singing, talking, whispering. Fragments of conversation, monologues, prayers. Anything. Because it’s not the voice itself, but rather the emotions behind it. Attitudes, fears, desires revealed through the slightest vocal inflection. Accents that reveal the community you grew up in. Blood Orange hears beyond the voice and sees behind the words to the soul. Because Devonté Hynes, the mastermind behind Blood Orange, realizes that if he’s not listening, no one will. On his fourth studio album, Negro Swan, Hynes reaches into his core, uncovering his past and current traumas, and demands to be heard.

But not everyone is willing to listen. It’s a reality Hynes is used to as a black man in today’s climate, caught in an odd space between being ignored or fetishized. “No one wants to be the Negro Swan,” Hynes admits on “Charcoal Baby.” To be wanted and hated, loved and feared, ugly and beautiful at the same time. To be never just one thing. Hynes knows it’s a troubled place to be; he’s occupied the marginalized space his whole life.

“After school, sucker punched down,” Hynes remembers on the album’s opener, “Orlando.” His early years consisted of daily beatings, sometimes leaving him in the hospital, always leaving him afraid to live. Hynes explores this even more a few tracks later on in, “Dagenham Dream,” named after the town where he grew up, whose grip he is unable to escape from even now. But more painful than the physical harm Hynes endured, was the repression inflicted upon him. The solutions to broken teeth and bloody noses were to be quiet and ashamed–like the pain was his fault.

Hynes hasn’t fully recovered nor does he think he ever will, but he’s found forgiveness, love and acceptance in place of hate. He’s found a family, not related by blood but by background, tied together by similar fears and misconceptions, set free with no judgment. Hynes utilizes activist, Janet Mock’s, candid voice in the spoken word verse, “Family,” a 42-second revelation exploring the nature of community when not constrained be race, sexuality or gender expression.

Hers is not the only voice Hynes uses to speak his truth. On “Hope,” a beautiful blend of smooth R&B and dreamy chillwave, Diddy and Tei Shi dance around each other’s vocals, hopes and fears. “What is it going to take for me not to be afraid, To be loved the way, like, I really want to be loved?” Diddy asks as an emotional proxy for Hynes. The answer comes in the outro, as Hynes speaks for himself: “Follow that wave/Chase what you know/cover your weave/jump in the flow.”

But as much as Hynes uses voices throughout the record, his use of sound is never more apparent. The album opens with New York street sounds–car honks and alarms–repeated throughout the entire album. These sounds show up unexpectedly, in between funky downtempo beats, electric piano and clean guitar strums, blurring the lines between pop and experimentalism. The result are 16 tracks that sound like nothing Hynes has made before, though they all have his creative mark.

Negro Swan could’ve easily turned into an unfocused compilation of noises proclaiming self-love and nothing more, but it doesn’t with Hynes. Though at times certain tracks may stray too far, Hynes is able to balance multiple spotlights and genres of sound within his creative control. He never gives in fully to the darkness that plagued his childhood existence, nor does he accept blind optimism. Instead, Hynes finds freedom, realizing his healing will never be complete.

“Lord I just wanna be/Rooted and grounded in thee.” The first lyrics off “Holy Will,” a collaboration between Hynes and singer, Ian Isiah, who delivers a powerful gospel performance centered around the Clark Sisters’ “Center of Thy Will.” It’s a plea for hopefulness and an acceptance of what is to be.

If “Holy Will” is a prayer, Hynes receives answers in the album’s closing track, “Smoke.” This time, it’s only him singing, paired with acoustic guitar and sounds from a community space–laughter, yelling, cheers. Hynes has never sounded more at place. His voice is exposed, his heart is open, and vulnerability is turned into a declaration of contentment. “The sun comes in, my heart fills within,” Hynes professes, and we can tell he means every word. He’s come out of the darkness and found the light within.

“My God, I’m so lonely.” The first lines of “Nobody,” the lead single off Be the Cowboy, Mitski’s latest release, where alone, behind a piano, she pours out her soul and spills our secrets. That’s how it usually works with Mitski. She stretches her own vulnerabilities through songwriting often described as diarylike, though her words are much more existential. She’s not writing in a diary; she’s excavating every emotional layer within her being because she wants the answers no matter how bad it hurts.

So her realization of loneliness is immediately swept away into a question: “Why am I so lonely?” It comes as the closing line of “Lonesome Lover,” after Mitski realizes her desire to return to an unhealthy love rather than be alone set to happily strummed guitar. But it’s not the only form of self-sabotage the 27-year-old owns up to. In “Geyser,” the album’s opening track, Mitski professes the push-pull relationship she has not with a lover but her musicianship. “You’re the one I want,” Mitski sings, willing to throw the whole world away if just to have her music. And she does, expecting it to save her: the artistic condition.

That dilemma—wanting to be saved from yourself—is carried onto the next song, “Why Didn’t You Stop Me?”  This time, Mitski is talking to an ex-lover, one she pushed away and blames for letting her get away with it. “Paint it over,” Mitski hopelessly begs, no longer able to convince herself of her innocence, staring at the ugly truth.

For all its dazzling vocals and intricate instrumentation, Be the Cowboy revolves around the ugly—in codependent relationships, fame and art itself. Mitski lays it bare because she’s tired of spending an hour on her makeup just to prove something. She’s fed up with the seemingly perfect surface level as seen on the album’s cover, where she wears a white swim cap as a tweezer plucks out uneven eyelashes. Because she’s staring straight at us, knowing it’s all for show; that who she is on the album cover is not who she is inside.

At the same time, Mitski can’t help but want to be immortalized. In “Remember My Name,” we hear her battle over the constant dissatisfaction of wanting to be known. She wants her feelings to be heard and her truth witnessed. The song ends with repeated cymbal crashes, as though not wanting to end or be forgotten, punctuating Mitski’s shout into the void.

But it’s more than being heard to Mitski. She wants to be enough. “Toss your dirty shoes in my washing machine heart,” Mitski requests on “Washing Machine Heart.” She’s putting her heart on the line for emotional labor; she’s willing to be used. But the loneliness never fades. Her washing machine heart only isolates her more, trapping her in a self-inflicted cycle of loneliness.

“I thought I had traveled a long way/But I had circled/The same old sin,” Mitski confesses on the emotionally charged, “A Horse Named Cold Air.” It’s one of the quieter songs on the album, boiled down to just keys and vocals. It’s Mitski alone—completely vulnerable and for once, content in her loneliness. She’s realized the cycle, acknowledged the pain and found somebody within herself. She sets herself free—she becomes the cowboy.

The album ends with “Two Slow Dancers,” in which Mitski focuses on two characters, former young lovers aged by time. It’s a tragic tale of memory and regret set during the couple’s final dance. But the song ends before the dance does, and in that moment, the couple is dancing forever. They’re free from the mess of life and content with themselves. So Mitski escapes herself by finding herself within the context of love and loss; she finds the answer after all.

An intimidating line of teenagers in streetwear, sporting tracksuits and rare sneakers, curved around Santa Ana’s The Observatory, slowly moving through security as they removed cellphones and forgotten chains from their pockets, staring at a group of teens in Hawaiian shirts as they bypassed the line for security and entered the venue with no hesitation.

The group of teens flowed into the already half-full Constellation Room, a hidden venue-within-a-venue, where rapper Ski Mask the Slum God, who was performing in the larger room, could be heard through the walls. The teens didn’t seem to care, or for that matter notice; they were too busy watching as members of The Symposium, a four-piece indie rock band, walked onto stage all smiles, as though the night was an inside joke.

The Symposium

After promising not to infringe on Kid Rock’s territory with their song “Cowboy” and labeling their more psychedelic sounding sounds as “synth shit,” it’s clear the Chicago band has skipped the pretension for a playful self-awareness. The music sounds retro, but the feeling’s not: a fuzzy mixture of youth and energy that seeks to be lost in.

As The Symposium left the stage, that energy remained in the audience mostly under twenty, who checked their phones and counted how many hours they had left until curfew. Phones disappeared into pockets as Hot Flash Heat Wave made their way onto the stage, dressed in full summer gear. After a few back-and-forth dialogues with the audio technicians, the band from Northern California finally began to relax, settling into the SoCal environment, joined by two miniature palm trees on stage.

“Should we play a show now? Is sound-check over?” a band member asked the audience as they let their anxieties slip away.

Hot Flash Heat Wave

The result of the garage rock the band is founded on and the dreamy atmosphere of the West Coast, Hot Flash Heat Wave never loses the melody. After a brief stint with a maraca, an accordion solo and a guitar versus accordion showdown, it’s clear the band is pushing the boundaries of what pop music should sound like, while maintaining the creative spirit that led them to the genre in the first place.

Accordion versus guitar showdown

The audience returned to their chatter, picking up where they left old conversations, counting down the minutes until the “coral-reef rock” band, a modern take on bossa nova and oldies, took the stage. As two LED palm trees lit up on stage, the group of teens in Hawaiian shirts screamed, for where palm trees are, Summer Salt isn’t far behind.

Though Austin natives, the band quickly settled into things, creating a hypnotizing groove as relaxing as the vocals of frontman, Matthew Terry. Each song rolled into the next, from powerful guitar riffs to emotionally charged lyrics, pleas for relaxation to thankfulness for the now, from remembering life’s sweetest moments to the pain of heartbreak. Fans cheered as they recognized familiar bass lines, mouthing the lyrics as they swayed along to the music, closing their eyes and disappearing for just a moment to a deserted beach of endless summer, where most Summer Salt music tends to take the listener.

Summer Salt

“If you’re wearing a Hawaiian shirt, this one is for you,” said a band member to cheers from those dressed in shirts covered with Polynesian motifs.

It’s not the only acknowledgment Summer Salt made to their dedicated fans, announcing the release of a new album following the completion of their tour before performing fan-favorite, “Tidal Waves.” It’s the closing track of the band’s 2015 release, Driving to Hawaii, which garnered the band a considerable amount of attention and continues to define the breezy, smooth energy Summer Salt delights in.

But no one enjoys Summer Salt’s music as much as their fans, who yelled out song requests new and old, if not the entirety of their discography. Though most of their requests were fulfilled by the end of the night, some fans seem to know more about Summer Salt than they do themselves.

“I’m in the band and I don’t even know that song,” said a guitarist as he turned to fellow bandmates in confusion at a request to play “Little Legs” before facing the audience, whose Hawaiian shirts clung to their sweaty limbs, and laughing along with them.

It starts with a screen. But before that, a bedroom. Scotch-taped posters plastered on the walls and a thumbtacked string of lights; the familiar objects of Claire Cottril’s space which would soon be recorded and uploaded online as the minimal setting for her spur-of-the-moment music video, “Pretty Girl.” Almost twenty million views later, those posters, along with Cottril herself, have become the face of “bedroom pop,” a loose genre of DIY music, more often than not confused for an aesthetic or sound rather than having been recorded in an actual bedroom. It’s this muddled definition of the term, recently popularized by a Spotify playlist, that has led to controversy over the integrity of the genre, the state of DIY music and what “making it” means. Nowhere better is this seen than in Cottril’s rise to fame as Clairo.

On a summer evening, the sky still light out, a mass of suburban teenagers waited patiently in line outside The Santa Ana Observatory. Most on their phone, others talking amongst themselves, waiting for a show that had been sold-out days in advance, much to the surprise of the headliner, Clairo, who recorded the crowd on her phone as she waited inside. 

“I’m still a little bit in shock,” Clairo would say half-way through her performance to an audience of screaming teenagers. 

It’s not hard to see where Clairo is coming from. The “Pretty Girl” music video was posted in just August of 2017 and her EP was released this past May. Though her career was born online, even it has moved fasted than expected in the digital age. And along with her insane growth in popularity has arisen the questions of why. 

Industry-plant, family connections and plagiarism have been tossed around as answers. Her sincere, self-made image that young fans have flocked to has been under constant examination, her climb to success seen as the result of a false narrative of humble origins. For as fast as Clairo has risen, many have leaped at the chance to tear her down and expose who she really is. 

But none of this was present as fans filled into the pit as soon as the venue doors opened. The Clairo controversy conversation occurs almost entirely online, on the outskirts of the overflowing good press that revolves around Clairo and fellow bedroom pop stars such as Cuco and Gus Dapperton. Because the naysayers can’t be heard over the millions of fans online, nor the hundreds of fans that night chanting “Clairo.” 

Despite all this, Clairo seems removed from it all. She’s shy, never staying in one place on stage, constantly moving away from the spotlight, throwing on a pair of sunglasses and facing her back to the audience. The stage isn’t the screen, and Clairo is still adjusting to being seen. Along with a live band, a giant mirror occupied the stage, reflecting the illuminated faces of those at the barricade; a shrine to the modern age. As seen in Clairo’s career, teenage insecurity and fame have coincided, and this time, through social media, everyone’s on stage.

Bedroom pop seems to be both born out of this and hindered by it. Because now, anyone can make music from their bedroom. Now, anyone can make it. The bedroom has become the stage. And with that, an influx of artists veiled in a cloak of realness, promising to deliver music from the heart untouched by the hands of the music industry. 

But where is the line drawn? Can bedroom pop expand into the studio without losing its authenticity? Or is its authenticity merely a commodity, a means of classifying itself amongst other similar-sounding genres? It seems to be that bedroom pop has become a catchall term for music that sounds honest, or at least has been labeled that way. What falls through the cracks is the actual process and what it means to make “authentic” music today. 

None of that seemed to matter in the midst of it all, though, as Clairo walked around the stage with a microphone, holding it to the audience during the chorus of “Flaming Hot Cheetos.” The crowd of teenagers on summer break was much too concerned with capturing the moment, seeing Clairo’s image held within their tiny screens, than concerning over where her music is made; they’re just happy she’s left her bedroom to perform onstage.

But where Clairo will go next remains unknown to the audience who catapulted her to where she is today. As she, along with other bedroom pop acts, continues to grow a devoted community of followers, the term bedroom pop becomes all the more cramped. Because recording in one’s bedroom, in one’s private space, has always been the first steps, never permanent. What happens when they outgrow the bedroom? What happens to the authenticity? For now, they’re safe to stay, but sooner or later, the pressures of moving out, of moving on, will arise, and the question of abandoning bedroom pop’s label will have to be answered. And if it’s abandoned, was it ever the right fit to begin with? Or just a trendy marketing ploy, authenticity packaged and sold, a lie disguised as the truth, just another product of 2018?

 

 

 

 

“There’s a place I know where we can go,” whispered David Portner, otherwise known as Avey Tare, into two conjoined microphones, strumming alongside childhood friend and bandmate, Noah Lennox, nicknamed Panda Bear, and along with Tare, one-half of Animal Collective. 

Where that place may be Tare never fully answers in the lyrics of “Good Lovin Outside,” but it’s clear it’s not here. It’s lost somewhere out there in the unknown, waiting to be explored, to be found. 

It’s that childlike spirit of secrets and discovery that make up Sung Tongs, where nostalgia meets maturity and sentiments are taken as they are. It’s a strange realm, one Animal Collective has always occupied in some way or another, finding a way through the distortions of childhood’s innocence and adulthood’s introspection, never betraying the other, but existing in both simultaneously. 

It’s a careful balance, one that garnered the band a considerable amount of attention when the album was released in 2004. And now, 14 years later, the band has decided to return back into the world of Sung Tongs, playing the full album live for the first time in 2017, followed by a tour across the U.S. and South America.  

“Something like this probably won’t happen again,” Tare said to the second-night audience at The Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, met by a mixture of cheers and sighs, a realization that the night was one of a kind. 

But that reality had already settled in long before, in the voice of Lonnie Holley. Before entering on stage for his final night opening for Animal Collective, Holley was introduced by a lengthy summary of his personal life and work as an artist, which has led to exhibitions in the Smithsonian and artwork displayed in the White House. But more shocking than his accomplishments is the nature of his music: never predetermined, but entirely of the moment. It’s here, then it’s gone.

And it was. Holley sat behind a tapestry with his initials and began to sing, at first quietly, still warming up and searching through his heart’s contents, but quickly began to cry out, standing to his feet in an outpour of emotion. Lyrics flew out of his mouth never to be heard again. Beautiful harmonies blended in mysterious ways never to be heard again. One couldn’t help but feel the slightest tinge of anxiousness, that no one was recording Holley’s genius, that it was going all to waste. But that’s not the point at all. Holley’s music lives inside him, constantly changing form and expression. It’s not a prisoner of time; it transcends it. 

“People ask me, where is the music coming from Mr. Holley? It’s coming out of me,” said Holley. 

That view of music as an extension of self is where Animal Collective thrives. As the duo walked onto a relatively empty stage, save two chairs, and adjusted their instruments, it was as though they were returning back to an old house—the one dreamt of throughout Sung Tongs, a space of reminiscing without getting too close. 

And with one exhaled “ah” from Tare and Bear, Sung Tongs began, from the swirling “Leaf House,” through the cathartic “We Tigers,” to the ruminative “Whaddit I Done.” Each song bled into the next, the music chasing the hypnotic voices which led the way, falling in and out of harmony, back and forth between soft coos and shrieking. Like children playing tag, or rather, adolescents escaping the pressures or maturity. They screamed, banged drums, meowed and made noises, losing every piece of themselves in pure happiness, like the Wild Things in Where the Wild Things Are. 

And so audience members left their seating to run through the aisles of the gothic-style theatre, forming chains and mimicking movements as though dancing around a fire in some ritualistic celebration of youth. But everyone remained seated during the over twelve-minute “Visiting Friends,” a hypnotic blend of vocalizations and constant strumming, capturing what it feels like to be young, the raw joy of possibility.

Tare and Bear were silent only once during the performance, between breaks in the harmonies of “College,” delaying the song’s mere seven lyrics, bringing audience members to the edge of their seats until finally everyone in the room cried out: “You don’t have to go to college.” All tensions disappeared as the reality of the statement sunk in, and uncertainty transformed into encouragement.

“That’s Sung Tongs,” Tare said to a standing ovation, Bear silent besides him. 

But the night wasn’t over, nor was Animal Collective ready to leave. For Sung Tongs was unfinished without its accompaniment, the EP collaboration with Vashti Bunyan, Prospect Hummer. 

“I remember learning how to dive,” were the last words of the night, depicting a crystal-clear scene of a child on a diving board, not ready to jump and let go. But no one ever really is, although we all make our way down to the water sometime. So Animal Collective lives in both places at once, always just about to hit the water.