There was a different vibe in the room as I walked into the First Avenue Mainroom on Monday night. Instead of just background music playing fairly softly in the background, the sound of almost chaotic noise music was pumping through the speakers. Honestly, I liked how it felt to walk into that and loved the way people were reacting to it. Although the change from how the crowd is normally when walking into First Ave compared to Monday was slight but it was just enough to catch my attention. There was almost a tenseness in the air made from the chaos in the music mixing with the anticipation in the air. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the show overall but I knew I was in for a treat as I just stood back and took it all in.
Kicking the night off was the beautiful L’Rain (born Taja Cheek). As soon as L’Rain and her amazing band kicked into their quick opening set, the experimental noise music playing prior to the show made sense. An experimentalist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and just all-around clearly amazing human being, it felt like the entire audience was stuck in the palm of her hand whether or not they wanted to be there. I’ll admit, the music radiating from the stage was weird to me but I mean that in the best way. I loved watching the pure musicianship on the stage right in front of me. Even though my eyes were glued to Taja Cheek majority of the set, there was no ignoring the rest of her band. Everyone that was performing during her set was clearly not just playing the music, they were feeling it.
Although L’Rain’s set was spacey, ambient, and artistic, there were moments of pure chaos and bloody emotion that highlighted the rest of the set. Somehow there was energy throughout their time on stage but you really only saw it manifest a couple times throughout the set including a powerful ending that left multiple of the band members on the floor of the stage. Again, musically, this band wasn’t quite for me but I love when you can watch a band feel the music in their heart and soul, not just play it, and that’s exactly what I got from L’Rain.
Although the majority of the songs in their fifteen-track set were unrecognizable to me, I loved the feeling that they gave me and the rest of the audience. Much like you could see the members of L’Rain feeling the music, you could see all of the members of Animal Collective and the audience feeling the music as the band powered through their nearly two-hour-long set. That mixed with the vivid lights and the constantly moving visuals behind the band made the set feel much shorter than it actually was. Complete with moments of almost orchestral goodness being created by just a four-piece band which had me absolutely floored, I found myself just in awe of the talent I was witnessing in front of me.
Animal Collective is one of those bands that people really geek out over. From the equipment they use to the composition of their songs, they are truly the musician’s music which is the aura they brought onto the stage. Although all four members were clearly enjoying what they were doing on stage, there was an undeniable sense of professionalism and restraint shown on stage. It was hard to not just keep my eyes glued to Geologist (Brian Weitz) as he seamlessly transitioned from a board of electronics to a hurdy-gurdy without missing a beat but honestly, every member of this band caught my eye at one point or another during their set.
I knew walking into First Avenue to a completely different vibe than usual was a sign that I was going to get a super interesting and artistic show but I don’t think I realized just how amazing it was going to be. The tone was set from the start and the entire night was a showcase of pure musicianship, beauty, and talent that led to an amazing way to spend a Monday night.