A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to travel to New York City to see Noah Lennox a.k.a. Panda Bear perform at The Beach on Governor’s Island.
The overall atmosphere of the show was unique due to the date and location: the show was held in New York City on the 9th anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. On a day of sorrow, plenty of people were able to transfer their emotions into excitement for the incredible display of music and visuals.
Seeing a show on Governor’s Island is quite the experience. If you don’t know where Governor’s Island is, it is located just off the southern tip of Manhattan (see map). The Beach, which is the outdoor concert venue located on the island, has a clear view of downtown Manhattan.
A ticket to the Beach also includes round-trip transportation via ferry; New York City from East River is a unique sight to see. Once there, the venue entertains concert-goers with a sand-filled concert floor full of barbeques, benches and fake palm trees, all in attempt to establish a summer beach vibe.
The opening line-up for the show was Teengirl Fantasy and Gala Drop, with Avey Tere DJing between sets. I was especially excited to see Avey Tere (member of Animal Collective) for two reasons: I hoped that he would play some music from his new album “Down There” due out in October as well as collaborate live with Panda Bear. Unfortunately, neither of my desires were fulfilled.
Teengirl Fantasy excited the crowd with their sample-heavy electronic dance set. I found the choice of Teengirl Fantasy to be slightly out-of-place due to Panda’s down-tempo drones, however everyone had a fantastic time nevertheless. Teengirl Fantasy has a new album “7AM” out now and you can check out their hit-song “Cheaters” here. Gala Drop is an instrumental jam-band from Portugal whose set was a good transition from Teengirl Fantasy to Panda Bear. Learn more or listen to Gala Drop here.
By this point in the night, the sunset had long passed and the Twin Towers were illuminated into the night sky as a tribute at Ground Zero. It was an amazing sight to see, especially while Panda Bear was performing.
Panda’s set came out to be around an hour and ten minutes, which by my standards fell way too short. As you will read, he played new material extensively from the upcoming album “Tomboy” and failed to play most of his older material. The full setlist can be seen at the end of the article.
Panda entered into a full stage of fog and immediately began to play the iconic “Drone” and literally shook the crowd. I was located right in front of the bass amps and trust me, it was somewhere between a hurricane and an earthquake. “Drone” is without a doubt one of the best concert introductions that I have seen.
Throughout the entire set, Danny Perez (the director of ODDSAC) was present to run the concert visuals. The visuals were classic Danny Perez psychedelic-interlaced videos, made with the intention of leaving you slightly confused, yet incredibly enthused.
“Drone” continued straight into an interesting rendition of the Animal Collective song “Daily Routine”. Avey Tere traditionally sings “Daily Routine” so it was exciting to see how Panda would change the song. He decided to play much more downtempo and slightly monotonous version, similar to the version of “Guys Eyes” that he performed later in the set.
The next track was “Tomboy”, the single from the upcoming album of the same name. This live-version stressed a climactic moment towards the end of the song, which transitioned immediately into “Guys Eyes”.
“Guys Eyes” was the most dramatic diversion from the original studio sessions. Panda’s live version was acoustic sounding and stressed Noah Lennox’s angelic voice. It was the first time I was able to understand the lyrics and demonstrated that Noah can truly sing. Additionally, Danny Perez projected a montage of porn as the visual accompaniment, which significantly alters the meaning the song if applied to the lyrics.
The now-infamous sample to “Surfer’s Hymn” acted as the transition into the next track. Below is a video of the song, courtesy of Big Ass Lens.
The next set of tracks was the highlight of the night. In nearly seamless succession, Panda Bear played the following tracks: Ponytail, Last Night at the Jetty, Benfica, Comfy in Nautica and Slow Motion. Fans of Person Pitch enjoyed hearing the tracks Ponytail and Comfy in Nautica, however I was blown away by Last Night at the Jetty and Slow Motion. In my opinion, Slow Motion was the strongest song of the night. Slow Motion is the B-Side to this summer’s “Tomboy” single and you can hear it here.
I strongly suggest watching the video below, which captures these beautiful songs.
After “Slow Motion” came “Bullseye” and “You Can Count On Me”. “You Can Count On Me” ended the main set and was my other favorite song of the night. I have a feeling that it will be known as one of Panda’s best when the “You Can Count On Me/Alsatian Darn” single is released next month.
Panda Bear’s encore featured “Alsatian Darn” and transitioned into a version of “Chores” which implemented lyrics from “I Think I Can” as an end to the concert. It is always fun to see the endless versions that the guys from Animal Collective create out of their songs and this was no exception. Below is video of the encore:
Although short, Panda’s performance undoubtedly establishes the fact that “Tomboy” will be one of the best albums of 2011. I highly recommend listening to the entire audio of the show and seeing Panda Bear the next time he comes to play near you.
[Total Time 1:10:05]
02 Daily Routine
04 Song For Ariel (Guys Eyes)
05 Surfer’s Hymn
07 Last Night At The Jetty
09 Comfy in Nautica
10 Slow Motion
12 You Can Count on Me
13 Alsatian Darn
*with “I Think I Can” Verses