It wouldn’t surprise Pennyblackmusic to discover Animal Collective are responsible for more relationship break-ups than adultery, sloth, jealousy and PlayStation Three addiction combined. Really, you’d only doubt this is if you weren’t at this London date. Because we were, sniggering at the legion of enraged women glaring furiously at their apologetic-looking boyfriends, who all seemed to be mouthing, "Really, you’ll start enjoying it in a minute," in unison. Memo to blokes: in future, think carefully which gigs to attend with chart music-loving womenfolk. Unless you could genuinely stomach a revenge ticket to Robbie Willams’ next Knebworth date.

If love isn’t in the air tonight at Astoria Two, something deeper and darker is – and it’s pulsating like a collapsing supernova.

The culprits bound around, looking like a bunch of over-excited, first time-drunk physics undergraduates. But they are in fact the delivery system for dirty bombs of mind-altering sound, which, when you’re lucky, contain sweet kernels of melody. And when you’re not, well, just pray you haven’t got your girlfriend with you.

Cavorting between a post-Halloween duo of tutu-clad skeletons, Animal Collective turn the stage into a science lab, fiddling around with anonymous-looking electronic equipment, and creating maelstroms of beats-heavy noise. When it’s good (i.e., the tune hasn’t sloped off and hidden under a rock), it’s very, very good. The galloping, falsetto driven ‘Peacebone’ even inspires outbreaks of spontaneous moshing among chin-strokers at the front. And when it’s bad, it’s like being body-slammed by a gang of angry WWE wrestlers.

It quickly becomes clear the best way to enjoy the gig is to do this. One: Grab a responsible adult and charge them with ensuring the well-being of you and the people around you. Two: Absorb the sound like a big, human being-shaped sponge and let it activate the barely-acknowledged impulses slithering around in the darkest recesses of your mind.

But don’t tell the police/fire brigade/your drugs counsellor we told you that.












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