Better than: staring into a blinking strobe light while listening to anything else.
In some regards, it's kind of hard to see why Noah Lennox, the man behind Panda Bear, is the king of the blogosphere these days. It's not like the guy tours and plays shows all that often. He doesn't.
But, somehow (and fittingly), Gorilla Vs. Bear, the Dallas-based music blog that has championed Panda Bear for years at this point, was able to treat Dallas fans, and many who traveled from out of state, at the Granada Theater last night to one of four U.S. shows that Panda Bear is performing on his current tour.
As such, the anticipation for the show could be felt throughout the near sold-out room the entire night leading up to Lennox's set time start at 10 p.m.
He started promptly, with Peter Kember, also known as Sonic Boom, by his side. They played through Panda Bear's new record Tomboy in its entirety, starting with "You Can Count On Me."
The two stood toward the back of the stage. You could barely see them for all the visual effects blocking them from view, but, even still, they proved to be a good pairing throughout the entire set, as Lennox's reverbed-out vocals took center stage and Kember provided dense layers of psychedelia underneath. On "Surfer's Hymn," the bass hit hard and the the snare snapped through the Granada's P.A. as a constant strobe flashed to the back of the room. The sensory overload, the throbbing bass and the overlapping harmonies seemed to put everyone in the room in an altered state.
Which is impressive: Music like Panda Bear's can be easily lost on a live audience. But, on this night, the third member of the band was the strobe light, which offered partial paralysis of the senses. It was most arresting on "Drone," with its deep bass drops and flashing strobes. (In the live setting, the King Tubby dub reggae influence comes out even more than it does on record.)
Finally, during his encore, Lennox performed some crowd-pleasing tracks from 2007's Person Pitch including "Bros," and "Comfy In Nautica."
It's hard to imagine that just two guys and some DJ equipment could put on such a stunning show, but for the thousand or so folks at the Granada Theater, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that lived up to its expectation.
Support act Silent Diane was slightly hypnotic but mostly boring. Toward the end of their set, they made a mistake and abruptly ended a song. Thing is, nobody would've noticed had they just stopped.
Panda Bear's most recent album Tomboy
didn't resonate with me as much as Person Pitch
, but, after hearing Tomboy
performed live, I'm itching to listen to it again.
Random note: Since this was the only show Panda Bear would perform in the South, a lot of people drove down from Oklahoma, including Flaming Lips leader Wayne Coyne, who wandered around the crowd just jamming out to P-bear in his own special way.
By the way: I was told by Granada owner Mike Schoder that Botany, former member of Sleep Whale, was brilliant. Then again, I don't think that guy's ever heard a band he didn't like. Either way, I arrived too late to catch the performance. My bad.