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Panda Bear At The Roxy, Friday April 17th 2015

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Panda Bear


I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I went to see Panda Bear at the Roxy on Friday night, I had seen him only once before, at the FYF fest in 2010, and I remember a young guy wearing a hoodie and hiding behind a synth, playing repetitive and hypnotic music I could not recognize at all. I also remember about the colorful and psychedelic images projected behind him and some intense vibrations coming from his synth with totally inaudible vocals… there was very little of this last night, this time I could recognize most of the songs and could hear his vocals, which are still undecipherable and incomprehensible for the most part, but more audible. I would even say that his voice was very much at the top of the music, defiant and powerful during ‘Crosswords’ and reaching some moving soprano-like heights during the chilling ‘Tropic of Cancer’.

Noah Lennox was not even hiding this time, still standing behind what it looked like a very complex soundboard, connected to a million electric threads but gloriously playing in front of colorful video projections, bigger and more kaleidoscopic than ever… maybe he has read all these critiques calling his music, precisely, a kaleidoscope of sounds, very probably he does not care for any of them, but there is certainly a strong psychedelic texture and cinematic vibe in his music. which were marrying so well with these swirling and strange projections.

But even though I could see his face this time, he still appeared like a very humble character and let his music speak to the audience, building an extraordinary sensorial experience. Besides the video projections, there were some violent flashing lights blinding the crowd at times, forcing us to close our eyes, and a few strong vibrations giving you a full body massage during several songs. It was at this point a complete ecstatic experience, as powerful as the special effects of an amusement park ride, and as euphoric as an acid trip.

He wasn’t even stopping between the songs, but rather re-building his busy ecosystem each time, occupying the usual awkward silence between numbers by a hypnotic and synthetic ommm…. as if he were a new age Buddhist priest. The pastoral ‘Sequential Circuits’ produced a dramatic effect, transporting the room in a busy cathedral-like rainforest, ‘This side of Paradise’ made the place swim in an unrecognizable and exotic sea, and ‘Come to your Senses’ sounded like a glitching electronic hymn.

It took me a while to realize that some human bodies were blending in the colorful projections, as I recognized synchronized swimmers trapped in a kaleidoscope and an alien-looking woman hiding behind a velvety orange drapery during his masterpiece ‘Tropic of Cancer’… the mask of death or rather several of them appeared just after during ‘Mr. Noah’, a remarkable dancer despite the mood, and it was time for Panda Bear to meet the grim reaper, the central theme of his last album… he closed his set with the triumphant hymn ‘Acid Wash’ and three strange characters in full tribal make-up vomiting an orange glue. But the crowd didn’t let him go before an encore with two tracks of ‘Tomboy’ –‘Alsatian Darn’ and ‘Surfers Hymn’ – and their blissful melodies piercing above the static.

Panda Bear always seems to sing in another language, not only he has a unique presence and an original sound, but he goes beyond this. Last night he didn’t simply play his songs, he rather seemed to freely occupy a new dimension, which had suddenly materialized thanks to his complex sonic universe.

Boys Latin
Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker
This Side of Paradise
Sequential Circuits
Faces in the Crowd
Come to Your Senses
Tropic of Cancer
Mr. Noah
Acid Wash

Alsatian Darn
Surfers Hymn

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