Where: The Wiltern, Los Angeles
What I love most about this band is their unabashed quirkiness; not self-conscious eccentricity, mind you, just a few weird dudes fearlessly being nothing but themselves (or are they just blissfully oblivious to anyone's judgment?). This comes across even more strongly in their shows than on their albums.
AC don't play songs so much as a continuous hour long DJ set of drums and psychedelic synths that unexpectedly yet seamlessly gives way to the Beach Boys-caliber melodies for which they are so famous. As soon as the band emerged it was obvious that these guys were not the cool kids in high school: Panda Bear bends intently over his drums and soundboard while Avey Tare bounces, hops and jerks to the beat. The plainness of their outfits contrasted with the overwhelming intensity of the multicolored lights and rapidly cycling surreal imagery projected onto a huge globe suspended above the band, not to mention the power of the music. There is something awesome about three guys awkwardly hunched over their instruments blasting an ecstatic audience of thousands with a deafening deluge of tripped out melody and pounding percussion.
As soon as the first recognizable melody emerged (Avey Tare's "Summertime Clothes") I realized something not totally apparent on the impeccably produced albums: there is nothing pretty about Avey Tare or Panda Bear's voices. (I began to understand more concretely why allmusic lists Björk among their influences.) Rather than detract from the power of their the music, however, the contrast of the roughness in their voices, punctuated with piercing shrieks, against such exquisite harmonies is nothing short of breathtaking. If the even the artiest of punk rock draws visceral thrill of loud electric guitars, then AC similarly draw on the even more primal thrill of a good yell.
While the less melodic sections did become excessively drawn-out and repetitive at times, the joy of finally being caught-off guard by your favorite AC tunes made the wait seem worthwhile. And if the band did get a little self-indulgent, with such an incessantly enthusiastic audience (that included both the hippest and dorkiest people in LA) loving every minute of it, who could blame them? With their inclination to make the wild and unpredictable musical, AC have become widely adored by speaking to the weirdos in so many of their fans.