Noah Lennox is on another level than the rest of us. His work with Animal Collective and as a solo performer under the name Panda Bear is some of the most widely critically acclaimed music of the 2000s. Merriweather Post Pavilion
and Person Pitch
are two of my (and evidently a lot of indie music folks') favorite albums, and they set a high water mark for neo-psychedelic minimalist pop and freak folk. In other words, when I had the opportunity to see him at one of my favorite venues (The Bowery Ballroom), there was no way I could let it pass me by. His three night residency as part of his tour for Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
and the new Crosswords
EP proved to be nothing less than the collage of sights and sounds I had hoped it would be.
Noah's fluidity when it comes to layering samples with his melodic chants is a sight to behold, and his live show only provides further evidence of his brilliance. It is no mere DJ set, because he personally is generating so much of what you are hearing, I mean the guy f***ing wails at the top of his lungs when needs to in order to elicit the desired effect.
I saw the show from three different angles and had three totally different experiences. I started out in the pit, trying to grab a few photos for this piece, but also to see what kind of person is right up against the rail at a Panda Bear show. They were actually one of the dullest, most agonizing crowds (I'm taking zero energy here) and some of the most pretentious and insufferable people I have ever met (every other person I spoke to thought they were Anthony Fantano
). So I moved up to the balcony, where I could truly appreciate and experience the visuals and lights that were going on.
Four massive strobe lights filled the ballroom with light, delivering a shock of energy to the viewers in perfect time with the rhythms of the track. Projected behind Noah was a plethora of images I simply can't describe with mere words; it was impressive to say the least. There were lips and shapes and fluids if I recall correctly...the bottom line is, I would like a dose of whatever whoever designed the video was on. The third was in the back, lying down on a couch, eyes closed, allowing whatever chemicals residing in my body to flow through my mind. This is how I listen to Panda Bear and Animal Collective at home (and I recommend to everyone to try at least once) and it's even more captivating and powerful in person.