Nothing is quite as refreshing as originality in music, and alternative group Glass Animals has discovered its niche originality both in the studio and on stage. The Oxford-based neo-psychedelic quartet graced the Fox Theatre in Oakland on Saturday night with a hazy and intimate performance to begin its 2015 world tour.
After a brief yet seductively gothic dance set from LA Priest, Glass Animals humbly took command of its electro-jungle stage. The band wasted no time in demonstrating that the lines between alternative, pop, hip-hop and dance music are best left in constant flux.
In a radio interview with Apple’s Beats 1 Radio, frontman Dave Bayley once described the group’s unique sound as “washing machine funk.” Household appliances aside, Glass Animals’ live performance of its 2014 studio album Zaba had a style that was almost ineffable. The group bent genres on stage in front of captivated eyes and ears, creating something entirely new and fresh.
Its live renditions of “Black Mambo” and “Toes” elicited harmonious venue-wide sing-alongs, but it was impossible to match Bayley’s scattered dance moves paired with faint but passionate vocals. But as the raindrop-like piano keys faded in to open the group’s recognizable hit “Gooey,” even the most reserved fans let loose and gave in to the melody as the venue erupted with cheer.
Illuminated palm trees, soft lighting patterns and dense smoke contributed to the jungle-themed aesthetic on stage, which followed with the general motif of Zaba. The Fox’s gold-plated and small center pit gave the entire performance a private feeling, as Bayley’s wailing voice exuded visible passion over every inch of the stage. Fading away in a collective cloud of hot smoke, he even thanked the crowd for a slight head buzz on stage.
The band members offered a meek “thank you” to the Oakland crowd and walked off stage, but it was clear that the crowd was not going to let them leave. After a brief disappearance, they reemerged and launched into a interpretation of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown.” Bayley’s enthusiasm was too big for the stage, as he worked his way into the pit and was supported by some ecstatic fans.
As there often is with eccentric bands, there was an equally as eccentric and diverse crowd present. From the ecstatic and carefree partiers to the reserved, remain-seated connoisseurs, the performance hit fans at every level of appreciation. The beauty of the concert was that the music is so universal — such a common denominator amongst everyone in the venue. Whether you were strictly a fan of 60s gospel soul, 70s space rock, or contemporary pop music before coming, you inevitably left with a new go-to group for the repertoire.