When Noah Lennox, aka Panda Bear, released ‘Tomboy’ in 2011, I put the whimsical ‘Last Night At the Getty’ (and several other songs) on repeat, then, four years later, the kaleidoscopic music of ‘Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper’ kept me fascinated for a while… Lennox, who is also a member of the experimental band Animal Collective, is a relatively slow-moving animal and it took him 4 more years to release new music with his released of his new album ‘Buoys’ a few days ago, although he also put out ‘A Day With the Homies’ last year, an EP which has certainly a place apart because the five-track album is only available on vinyl, and you can’t even stream it on Spotify.
On Monday night, Panda Bear played the first of his two dates at the Lodge Room in Highland Park (he was also playing on Tuesday), and since the set concentrated on these two recent releases for the large part, he left me floating between unfamiliar currents.
The electronic duo Flaccid Mojo opened the night with a colorful collage of beats, snoring electronica, industrial repetitiveness, distorted pin machine, high-speed sound and a headbanging discotheque with mumbling screams. They were like the fat (but tasty) appetizers before the more delicate meal.
The place was packed, and sold out, with die-hard fans cheering, screaming very loudly and even singing along during some of the songs, something I hadn’t seen before at a Panda Bear concert. Many of the tracks were acclaimed by the crowd who was not only living his music internally but also responding with dance moves.
A Panda Bear concert is a visual experience and I am not only speaking about the visuals projected on a screen behind Lennox, his music is completely unique, evocative with many layers largely open for interpretation, and some of his compositions looked like a widescreen production with strange female dancers and pink colors but also anxious sirens and fast loud trains. However, the setting was very simple, as usual, Noah Lennox was standing behind his electronic stand which was holding sampler beat machines, a mini synth, and other electronics. He was singing in a mic while his left hand was often masking half of his face, transforming the sober scene into the center of his one-man show. The spectacle was certainly not physical but the psychedelic nature of Lennox’s surprising compositions, combined with the soft colors and harmonious moves on the screen, was certainly enough to produce a unique and submerging experience.
He opened with ‘Dolphin’, which is also the first track of ‘Buoys’, letting the water drop effects splash a sea of electronics with Lennox holding the longest note ever during ‘To the end’ line. Without a real guitar in view, Inner dialogue’ had the intimacy of a sad folk song with sobbing noises and Noah crooning above the music with a triumphant bravado. The title track ‘Buoys’ was one of the highlights of the show with sonic fireworks matching the powerful and bold visuals, otherwise showing a bald female dancer wearing a vinyl red cape, while the gentle trotting trip hop of ‘Master’ inspired a tropical dance step over a pretty melody.
In pure contrast, the songs of ‘A Day with the Homies’ were mixing infectious beats with an anxious atmosphere, and if ‘Nod to the Folks’ seemed to have so much going on, a dub party crashed by war sirens and alarms in the sky, carried away by motorcycle engines, it sounded like a happy dance party at the edge of the apocalypse, like an insouciant island life when the world is on fire. ‘Part of the Math’ was an exceptionally exuberant number and it made us vibrate with a throbbing Ommm-like noise, and despite the very dark side of the lyrics ‘We’re all gonna be/Six feet in the coldest ground’, people could not have been happier when dancing their joy away.
For the entire set, the music never stopped, the swirls and throbs of sounds between the songs never ceased, giving to the crowd an immersive experience, while building a unique ecosystem of sounds inside the Lodge Room. The new album sounded joyous and diverse in its palette despite being built around guitar songs, drum machines, and heavy sub-bass, and if the set had less of these wide-screen hymn-like songs, he did the cathedral adrenaline-boost ‘Comfy in Nautica’ during the encore.
Less repetitive and kaleidoscopic than Panda Bear’s two full-length previous releases, the organic soundscapes of ‘Buoys’ were crashing into the angsty ones of ‘A Day With the Homies’, and as layering guitars, Reggaeton and drum machines of festive islands at sunset were colliding with anxious sonic textures, delayed sounds and railroad machines at plain speed, the crowd had a really great time. Panda Bear’s compositions are still very experimental and almost impossible to seize live, they are like living organisms, constantly evolving in front of our eyes and ears while escaping reality and description
Nod to the Folks
I Know I Don’t Know
Part of the Math
Comfy in Nautica
Playing the Long Game
at the top of the singles charts and at the top of the movie box office
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – November 1978 (Volume 10, Number 6)
I’m not taking the band QUITE as seriously as I once did
Rocky Kramer’s Rock & Roll Tuesdays Presents “Rocktober” On Tuesday October 4th, 2022 7 PM PT on Twitch
Rocky Kramer will be hosting “Rocktober” on this week’s episode of Rocky Kramer’s Rock & Roll Tuesdays on Twitch. Tune into Twitch on Tuesday, October 4th, at 7 PM PT for this amazing show. Rocky Kramer is a guitar virtuoso, often being compared to the greatest guitar players in the world. Rocky has performed on…
“In these shows I’ve got some stories to sing, and some songs to tell…”
heavy metal all killa
a scary 87K EAUs
don’t let her father distract you
his sonic landscape largely exceeds his simple roots in folk
The globally streamed 6 hour concert presented by Fenix360 and WOWtv for the “Let Me Help Inc.org Foundation” (a 501c3 charity) for “Children of the World”, Saturday, October 1st, 2022, Reviewed
between the needs of charity, the needs of empathy