Opening with the song “What’s the Goodside?” Avey Tare answered the rhetorical question with his performance. Tare performed Monday at The Chapel in San Francisco to a full house, creating a bubble of cool sounds that refused to pop till the very end.
Tare is one of four founders of the critically acclaimed band Animal Collective and was on tour for the promotion of his third solo album, Cows on Hourglass Pond. The 39-year-old artist, whose real name is David Michael Portner, is the only member of Animal Collective to contribute to all the band’s 11 studio albums.
Cows on Hourglass Pond came out March 22 through Domino Records. The album itself creates a lush soundscape in the blending and layering of acoustic guitar with synth-pop sensibilities and sounds. It’s a rich collection of tracks that can easily be listened to as one continuous song. This ambient sound is topped off with Tare’s sometimes indecipherable lyrics and characteristically strange sound effects as he mumbles into the mic.
“What’s the Goodside?” set the mood and aesthetic for the rest of the night, its cool sounds creating a surreal soundscape amplified by the musician himself. Tare transitioned seamlessly into different songs, oftentimes changing instruments midsong. After playing the opening song, he transitioned quickly and fluidly into “Nostalgia in Lemonade” — a song that was met with enthusiasm from the audience members, who cheered, swayed lightly and sang along.
Supporting his set, Tare had two other musicians — one who would transition between playing guitar and keyboard plus another who kept the beat on drums. Visually, the lights and projections furthered the ambient dream that Tare created with his sound, with abstract outlines projected behind him, slowly moving and changing with the shifts in the music. Tare had minimal interaction with the crowd, only acknowledging audience members during necessary parts — namely when there were longer shifts between sets. This ambivalence contributed further to the otherworldly aspect of his performance.
The only part of the concert that seemed to falter was Tare’s performance of “Chilly Blue.” The song is already one of the shorter and more sound-driven tracks on the album. Just as in the studio recording, the song acted as filler. While it furthered the sense of ambient surrealism, it also lost some of the energy of the crowd; it could only act as something to lightly sway to while awaiting more substantial songs.
Despite this dip in the show, other songs that Tare performed were highlights. These included the high energy of “Remember Mayan,” the lo-fi surfer sound of “Saturdays (Again)” and the playful irreverence of “HORS_.” “HORS_” is especially clever — with the clanking of horse hooves making up the beat, it is a song that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it acts as a great transitional song. Unlike “Chilly Blue,” “HORS_” can stand on its own four legs.
He finished with the two songs “Taken Boy” and “K.C. Yours.” “Taken Boy” is a slow acoustic shift, and it indicated that the concert was wrapping up. The song reflected the sentiments of the audience members; just as the title suggests, they had become taken with Tare and his music. The final song was “K.C. Yours,” an electric ode to a sci-fi future full of robots and one of his more singalong-friendly and popular songs. “That was the year I slept with the robot, and so I thought that was the worst we’d seen yet,” Tare sang.
Tare ended the show strong, with the entire audience displaying more energy for that song than for any of the previous songs. He finished with a simple “thank you” and a quick walk offstage. The crowd stayed firmly in place, stomping and cheering for an encore that never came, proving that Tare is, after all, too cool for us.
Contact Zoë Cramer at [email protected].