The Problem With the Animal Collective/Grateful Dead Analogy
Lately, this has been all over the news: growing up, Animal Collective were like big into the Dead, and now we are supposed to understand the progressive/non-perforated song structures of their (AC's) contemporary live shows as being somehow another generation's answer to the spontaneously epic jamming of The Dead.
All well and good on the surface. Having seen them tonight at the Grand Ballroom, I can testify that the songs did indeed blend together.
However, at no point was there a Scarlet/Fire moment even remotely analogous to the transition from the 5/8/77 Cornell show. No, there was no spontaneous discourse between Dave Portner and Noah Lennox that created a new sense of gravity, a new sense of dynamical interplay within the existing idea of the band. No. For that, you would have to look to The Dead, circa 77-78.
But what you do have with AC, in place of the at times fruitless jamming and "musicianship" of the GD, is amazing melodies, incredible song structures that lie waiting to explode onto the scene.
With the Grateful Dead, one waits for the explosive moments of interplay, the accidental, "wild" combinations that occur within the freedom of the jam. With Animal Collective, it is just the opposite; the usually very repetitive sample-based structures that predominate between "songs" serve as a plateau, a base upon which one builds up an expectation of the melodic release to come.
This is particularly true of the Panda dominated songs, but also, I'm noticing more and more, of the Avey Tare pieces.
So what we have, roughly, is this:
Grateful Dead=Best Moments in the Jamming.
Animal Collective=Best Moments in the Songs.