I wouldn’t normally consider imagery of three women vomiting, nude aliens, and a Grim Reaper as particularly beautiful, but when it complements Noah Lennox a.k.a. Panda Bear, it becomes a fascinating work of art. On Sunday night, some of Panda Bear’s biggest fans crammed into the geodesic VW dome at MoMA PS1 in New York to watch a stunning array of visuals accompany his new album, Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. (The set was also live-streamed as part of the Boiler Room sessions.)
I have to start by admitting I’m a bit of an all-things-Animal Collective groupie… but even though I’ve seen Panda Bear three times in 2014, it still felt like I was seeing him for the first time. While most tracks off PBVSGR were performed in earlier shows, Panda Bear continually finds a way to make each performance feel new, transcending the crowd into a dream-like experience. The accompanying visuals previously were projected directly behind the stage, but this time fans were immersed with strobes and imagery floating above and all throughout the dome. Danny Perez, the mastermind behind the visuals, (who has also done many of the visuals for Animal Collective) curated the spectacle with psychedelic, sometimes fun, and sometimes grotesque imagery that matched the fluctuating rhythms produced by Panda Bear.
However, it was still Lennox’s powerful vocals that stole the show, echoing throughout the dome, emitting bigger chills than the cold weather outside. Lennox has said in previous interviews that songs off PBVSGR were heavily inspired by personal events, and you could feel the emotions protruding through his choir-like vocal cords. Much to the crowd’s delight, Panda Bear also played a few tracks off 2011’s Tomboy.
Soft-spoken, eyes closed, and hidden behind his equipment, Panda Bear brought 75 minutes of soothing melodies, making even the Grim Reaper seem like a beautiful thing.
If you missed the show or live-stream, you can catch the full performance here: http://boilerroom.tv/session/panda-bear-momaps1/