It may be the season of pumpkin spice and fall leaves and pumpkin patches and all around white girl heaven – but the summer vibes were alive and well at The Palace Theatre on Wednesday night for a sold-out Glass Animals show. From a pineapple disco ball to two giant palm trees to the warm glow of Tetris inspired lights hanging on the stage – it felt more like Spring Break rather than the impending doom of winter we are all feeling here in the Twin Cities.
There was no shortage of tropical goodness to go around, thanks to both Glass Animals as well as their opener – Amber Mark.
Mark kicked off her set at 7:30 sharp to an already packed Palace. The second Mark took to the stage, she had the room captivated. At first – it’s easy to be captivated by Mark solely on her radiating beauty, glowing skin (seriously – her skin is perfection) and smooth dance moves. But the moment she put the microphone to her mouth out poured otherworldly, angelic vocals.
Though the crowd at the Palace was definitely there for Glass Animals – Mark seemed to make a few (hundred) new fans last night. Her sound seemed to draw from a myriad of places musically. There were moments her vocals called to mind some of the great female vocalists of our time – Adele, Amy Winehouse, Solange and other times crossing over into the pop-powerhouse vocals of Demi Lovato, etc. Then her tribal/island-inspired, pulsating beats reminiscent of some of the more dance-hall, Caribbean places Drake explored on his most recent More Life mixtape. Her sound crossed over into a more retro sound at times – think Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, etc.
Mark hit a sweet spot toward the end of her set with the piano & synth driven track Way Back. Mark was spotted chatting with fans at the merch table in between sets. We definitely hope this is not Mark’s last time in the Twin Cities.
Thanks to Mark’s knockout set, the crowd was nice and loose by the time Glass Animals took the Palace stage shortly after 8:45 pm (thank goodness for all ages shows). They kicked off their set with the unintelligible Premade Sandwiches, which sounds like one of those speed-up disclaimers they do at the end of a radio commercial.
This Oxford-based four-piece wasted no time diving into the set with Life Itself. As Glass Animals throbbing synths and bombastic drums put the speakers at The Palace Theatre to work, frontman David Bayley (vocals/guitar) danced and swirled around the stage. I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a lead singer having as much fun as Bayley was having. This childlike, contagiously youthful energy punctuated the entire set. There’s really no way to listen to Glass Animals and not have fun. From their sun-soaked sound to their tongue-twisting lyrics to their infectious stage energy – it’s a band you have to dance along to.
However – something I’ve come to love about Glass Animals over the years, like so many other fans, is although at the surface their sound is sugary indie pop-rock, their lyrical content explores some darker, more complex places. On Youth, Glass Animals essentially tells the story of a woman forced to leave her son because of her battle of drugs. Bayley taps into the basic desire every parent has for their child, “I want you to be happy,” they sing. “Fly, feel your mother at your side, don’t know you got my eyes, I’ll make you fly. You’ll be happy all the time, I know you can make it right,” the song continues. All of this sung over swirling sweet synthy beats.
Glass Animals is a band that might be easy to write off, but there was something so different about their set than any band from this “genre” I’ve seen. Sure – I’ve been listening to How to Be a Human Being pretty much on repeat since it came out last year, but Glass Animals live set took these songs I’ve fallen in love with to a new level.
Glass Animals is a band that seems to love what they do, they have a damn good time, and that transfers to their live shows. There wasn’t a moment the crowd at The Palace wasn’t
As Bayley danced on top of the TV with a pineapple, Drew MacFarlane (guitars, keys, vocals) danced under the pineapple disco ball. Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Edmund Irwin-Singer (bass, keys, vocals) danced his way across the stage, working the crowd. And Joe Seaward held things down on his watermelon drum kit.
An undeniable standout moment from Glass Animals’ set was their breakout hit Gooey. They slowed things down a bit with Agnes to close out the set before coming back on stage for their encore. The encore included their cover of Gnarls Barkley which seems like it was made for Glass Animals booming drums and Bayley’s vocals. They wrapped up the evening with perhaps their biggest song to date, Pork Soda.
“This was really fun,” Bayley said, barely able to get a word in edgewise in between the screams and clapping that punctuated each and every song.
It was a sweaty, gooey, tropical evening at the Palace with Glass Animals and Amber Mark. Just what St. Paul needed with the impending doom of winter around the corner.
Glass Animals continues the US leg of their tour tonight in Chicago and Friday in Michigan.
Set List: Intro: Premade Sandwiches / Life Itself / Black Mambo / Hazey / Poplar St. / The Other Side of Paradise / Season 2 Episode 3 / Toes / Take a Slice / Mama’s Gun / Cane Shuga / Youth / Gooey / Agnes / Encore: Crazy (Gnarls Barkley cover) / Pork Soda