Photos by Neil Van.
Having only just had its grand opening the night before, Rebel (formerly Sound Academy) was hosting its first concert in the new era (they had shows in the past little while as a soft opening) and as the crowd was able to see for themselves all the upgrades and improvements the venue had made (it’s still a pain in the butt to get to the venue though). The opening act, the Pumarosa’s came on early and put one what can only be described as an odd and interesting show performance. There were people that loved their sound and danced along and would say that odd and interesting is a compliment. Others probably were left scratching their heads wondering why Glass Animals had them opening for them and would call it odd and interesting to be polite. Really it was a bit of both. Pumarosa is a British band that classifies themselves as Industrial Spiritual and lead singer Isabel sings like a cross between Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane and Jehnny Beth of Savages. At one point Isabel used a drumstick to play her guitar like the way Jimmy Page would use a violin bow and making sounds that would impress Lou Reed. On some songs the band would hit a groove that was so sweet it would make your teeth hurt while you danced. Isabel would dance like an enchantress bringing about the end of days while the band would hypnotize us. The crowd surprisingly enjoyed the show quite a bit, more then you would think at first glance.
For a band that has only released two albums, Glass Animals are remarkably sure of their direction and creative choices, especially for a band that might be considered synth pop. The four-piece just released How To Be a Human Being only in August and it is easily a contender for one of the top albums of the year. The set looked like a contemporary Salvador Dali designed it, as two large cactuses accented the sides of the stage, Tetris like cubes that lit up framed the band and with a disco ball in the center of the cubes. Drummer Joe Seaward had a watermelon design on his bass head and a pineapple sat on top of one of the amps. It was quite a surreal scene.
The band came out after the interlude on the album called [Premade Sandwiches] played, which is an anti-consumerism screed and features such lyrics like “People complaining about standing in line/People standing in line and they don’t even know why”, which is totally ironic that the band is playing in a venue that was so new and shiny you can see the foundation is built on people that consume far too much.
Most bands play their new hits late in their sets, not Glass Animals though as they kick off the show with Life Itself, probably the most catchy song in their catalogue. There is no grace period to ease fans into and frankly no one seemed to care as they jumped and sang along right away. During the pre-chorus when the band got to the line “She said I look fat” they stopped played and singing and the lights over the crowd went up as everyone gleefully shouted at the band “but I look fantastic” to finish the line. The band did a 1-2 punch by following up with the second single, Youth, creating a frenzy of everyone in attendance. Most of the time fans want to hear older songs and not be bothered with newer stuff, but HTBAHB is more infectious and easier to dance to making it must see music.
Diverting a bit to older material the switched it up to play Black Mambo and hearing the raindrop-like plunking synths was beautiful to see live as the crowd sang the chorus without the help from singer Dave Bayley who laughed and leaned into the mic to say that “you sound good” to the crowd mid song. Afterwards sensing the crowds enthusiasm Bayley exclaimed that the crowd was “lit” for a Sunday night. They switched between songs off of HTBAHB like Season 2 Episode 3 and Take a Slice with jams from their first record Zaba like Pools and Toes. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where Glass Animals influences come from sonically but on songs like Poplar St the guitar riff sounds like if the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s were playing their upbeat funk song Snow (Hey Oh) but in the tempo of their downbeat song Under the Bridge, something that doesn’t make sense when reading this, but if you listen to the song the connection will be made quickly.
During The Other Side of Paradise Bayley bounced around like he was in a hip-hop anthem music video from DMX. At one point he forgot the words and had the band loop the bar before joining back in again. Despite having the appearance of an overly glossy polish, the group is incredibly down to earth and isn’t afraid to wear their mess-ups on their sleeves making them seem even more adorable and likeable. The Other Side of Paradise is a song that is ripe for a remix from a rapper like Danny Brown or Vince Staples. For the intro to Gooey, Bayley played the air harp along to the beat as Drew MacFarlane actually played the keys for it. It seemed like everyone’s favourite line was “You just wanna know those peanut butter vibes” as it was sung along to every time the chorus rolled around.
As the band strolled back out for the encore, Bayley popped up in the middle of the crowd asking if those in attendance liked Kanye West, as they broke out into their popular cover Love Lockdown. Standing on a VIP bench, Bayley spent the whole song surrounding by people snapping pictures on their phones. Despite being a fairly well known Kanye song, the arrangement was so wildly different that if it weren’t for the chorus it would have been wholly unrecognizable. The night finished with Bayley back on stage dancing with the pineapple that adorned the stage as he sung Pork Soda. It was a peculiar night hosted by a fantastic band that needs to be seen to understand the adoration they rightfully deserve.