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ANIMAL COLLECTIVE, BLACK DICE

RIALTO THEATRE

Sunday, May 31

Ducking in the shadows, the projector light revealing only the tops of their heads, Brooklyn trio Black Dice forced a jarring noisescape on the largest early crowd I've seen at the Rialto. The budding hipsters and the sprinkling of older, seasoned music aficionados who happened to leave their earplugs at home jammed their fingers into their external auditory canals to stifle the ludicrous amounts of loud.

The band seemed to enjoy themselves, fumbling with knobs and all sorts of neat-o electronic gadgetry. Their stripped-down sounds were carefully layered, one on top of another, and included borrowed looped movie and song samples, and vocals obscured beyond recognition. However, there were no logical end points to their five-minute sonic creations, making it difficult to connect with the band.

I tried to lose myself in the borderline-disturbing psychedelic imagery and the thumping bass, but decided that Black Dice is best served up while under the influence of something far more powerful than alcohol; beer did little to dull the auditory onslaught.

Hyperbole be damned: Animal Collective's newest studio album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, is a mind-blowing masterpiece. It's loaded with an engaging, infectious positive energy, and their live show was a perfect extension of their far-reaching talent. Animal Collective is made possible by the men behind the technology: Avey Tare on vocals and guitar, Panda Bear on percussion and vocals, and Geologist, geeking out on space-age keyboards.

The opening number showcased trip-hop grooves reminiscent of Massive Attack, and helped ease into their more frenetic material. A giant floating orb displayed monochromatic images above the stage that flowed in time with the music. One of the more pop-influenced tracks from Merriweather, "Summertime Clothes," set off a frenzy, and from the balcony, it looked as if the main floor of the Rialto was going to give way under the mass of ecstatic fans. Animal Collective tested a bunch of new material which met with the crowd's approval. The album's hit, "My Girls," was appropriately part of the encore.

I had a feeling of being lighter than air during Animal Collective's otherworldly performance. This show provided the soundtrack to an alien abduction—and everyone in the building seemed thrilled to be a part of it.

More by Mel Mason

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