Animal Collective. Danielson. South Street Seaport. Summer. - Oh My Rockness

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Animal Collective. Danielson. South Street Seaport. Summer.

May 23, 2007
Summer is here. We know this not by the haze and humidity and the sweet stench of street garbage (that comes later), but because Friday, June 1st is the inaugural South Street Seaport show of the season. And who better to usher in these carefree (with emphasis on the "free") outdoor concert days than a riddle-of-a-band from Brooklyn that often likes to wear creepy creature masks, and a guy who sometimes sings inside a giant fake fruit tree. If Animal Collective and Danielson are any indication, we're all due for a long, strange summer. But it's also going to kind of rock, too. Seriously, how much better is June than, say, February?

South Street Seaport is a great place to see a show. It's free, it's spacious, you've got a great view of the skyline and the sea, and the sound always is solid. They haven't quite figured out the bathroom situation yet (you have to go into the mall... and malls make me melancholy), but everything else about the show experience is top-notch. It's always added gravy when the bands playing are actually bands you want to see. And gravy abounds for June 1.

You probably know Animal Collective (now based in Baltimore) by now. They've been acclaimed by just about everyone, it seems. This entirely unique band (currently comprised of members Avey Tear, Panda Bear, Geologist and Deakin) makes strange experimental psych-pop music that's like nothing you've heard before. Ok, maybe you hear a little of it in Oneida, but that's about it. What's probably the weirdest thing about what these guys do is NOT that they used to conceal their identities with masks (you had me at Gwar), but it's that their extremely eccentric music also happens to be extremely pretty and catchy. How's that for a paradox.

At their essence, AC deconstructs sounds into their most basic elements, and then stitches them back together again to create a whole new sonic experience. Think of it as raw, tribal music but with a bunch of symphonic layers on top.

And speaking of unique, those who have heard and seen Daniel Smith (a.k.a. Danielson) play live will probably never forget it. Part singer, part performance artist, Smith definitely does his own thing. Let's start with his voice: it's basically a high-pitched screech. And if that wasn't challenging enough, he's been known to perform entire shows while situated inside his own costumed (and custom-made) fruit tree. There's a reason he does that, and he goes into great detail about it in the exceptional documentary, "Danielson: A Family Movie."

Smith is a mentor to Sufjan Stevens, and it's easy to see that Sufjan found lots of inspiration (especially on his "Illinois" album) from his buddy, Daniel Smith. Smith creates grand pop songs that incorporate horns, strings, keys and contributions from a large pool of collaborators. His songs, if not straight-up twee, are definitely whimsical. And they also have a powerful positive message that will leave you feeling anything but blue. Sure, you may scratch your head a little, but you'll definitely be engaged in the pop pageantry of it all.

Summer is here.

Animal Collective and Danielson play South Street Seaport, on Friday, June 1st.


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