By Justin Gutierrez
The main stage lawn was packed with people anticipating something to follow up Mumford & Sons' performance. It was hard to tell if many of the people standing around really knew what Animal Collective was all about, but I knew that nonetheless, they would "bring the weird," as lead singer Noah Lennox coyly announced during their performance.
Bring the weird they did. Their set began with the structural cage of the stage transforming into a giant metal cube. Anticipation in the crowd escalated as the front of the cube cage closed and ominous drone noises shook the air. Everyone was waiting for something to happen. Maybe the group would emerge? Was this their actual performance? Lights began to flicker on and off throughout the cube. The noise grew in intensity. Lights climbed the cube and flashed around it in nameless patterns. The crowd noise grew, but nothing changed. The giant cube had taken over, and we were watching this monster perform! Static sound and lights spun around quicker and quicker, and disappeared into the void of space. Animal Collective appeared as the crowd went mad, and their set was under way.
If you've ever heard the group, you know that their music is unlike any other. It reminds me of a big pot of rainbow colored liquids being stirred together to create sound (the LCD screens were filled with these sort of graphics). A rhythmic beat pervaded many of their songs that night, but it was sometimes dissolved into bizarre samples and screams. I sat back to watch people's reactions. Though I expected confusion and even anger from the crowd, people seemed to be making their best attempt to understand what was going on. A majority of listeners stood silently bobbing their heads, but a good handful were out back jerking around frantically and freely to the music. Maybe it wasn't the best move to put Animal Collective on the main stage, but no one can argue about the initial effect this group gave to the Coachella experience. It was a show that will be hard to live up to.