10/17/2015 – House of Blues 

Athe House of Blues last Saturday, Glass Animals created a tropical ambience through their visuals and their sound that did not let its sold-out crowd down. The whole of Glass Animals’ show – the music, the visuals, and even the stage banter – came together to end the tour on a high note. 

Though the majority of the audience was not familiar with opener Empress Of, they expressed a healthy curiosity. Empress Of’s performance, however, fell flat, failing to translate surface-level curiosity into true fascination. The music itself was both fun and dark, with a sound similar to disco pop and vocals reminiscent of Robyn. But they just didn’t have the presence needed to capture the audience at the large House of Blues.

It was hard to miss the six life-sized palm trees placed symmetrically in a semicircle around the instruments on stage for Glass Animals’ set. Those, along with a floor-to-ceiling length backdrop, created an aesthetic dripping in common chillwave tropes. The slight haze of the fog machine was a constant throughout the show, submerging the venue even deeper into a tropical rainforest.

Even the song transitions were filled with ambient jungle noises, adding to the tropical vibe. On top of all that, a literal pineapple was placed at the front of the stage, adding an absurdist touch. Apparently, the pineapple was a reference to a different pineapple the band used to help them achieve a “tropical” vibe while recording their album in studio.

Lead singer Dave Bayley, energy high throughout the show, was dancing in his jumpy way during the first track. Each track was played with clarity and smoothness, precise to a fault. One or two stripped-down songs would have added variety. Being only familiar with the clean studio-recorded versions of their songs, I expected the performance to be dominated by MIDI instruments. In actuality, Glass Animals are more like a traditional rock ‘n roll band– guitar, bass, and a real life drum set. The very heavy, deep drums were a powerful presence and the driving force behind all the songs. Guitar solos peppered the set, including one that turned into a guitar battle between two band members. Not only did these guitar solos add some rock ‘n’ roll to the otherwise mellow music, they proved that these guys can really shred.

But, the variety of sounds and timbres that emanated from the stage were unusual and eerie: delayed echo that sounded like water droplets, distinct bass that accentuated every pluck, and metallic strumming that had me mistake the effected guitar for a marimba.

Bayley’s stage banter, although it seemed rehearsed, was charming and intimate. His tone while addressing the audience was always calm and quiet, as if he was speaking to a crowd at a living room show. At one point, he took off his shoes before a slower song, explaining that doing so made him feel “like being in my bedroom.”

Bayley showed his love by jumping right into the pit during a cover of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown.” He was immediately swarmed on all sides, before promptly returning to the stage wearing a pineapple-print bucket hat taken from the head of a fan.

Of course, being the last night of the tour, many acknowledgements had to be made. Instead of breaking in between the set to give a fifteen-minute speech, thanks and shout-outs were given in small increments throughout the show. Glass Animals’ acknowledgements and energy made it clear they were really going to miss playing on tour and, after witnessing all of those small pleasant surprises like the pineapple, who knows how wild their next tour might be?

Inspired by Pineapples: Glass Animals
Vibrant, high-energy, and tropical
Pros
  • Intense and colorful lighting that fit the mood
  • Flawless performance of album songs and covers
Cons
  • Filled with chillwave clichés
  • Opening band did not fully capture the audience's attention
9.5Musical jungle paradise

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