January 12, 2015

Panda Bear @ MoMA PS1, New York

Panda Bear performs at MoMA PS1 last night in New York.

MoMA PS1 is a former school building converted into an art museum, and it feels like a dream where you’re in school and every room you go into has something different inside. There’s a room playing a dozen videos of political protests around the world at the same time, a dark room playing a film of a man driving and crashing his car from different viewpoints over and over, a bedroom built onto a ceiling, and Panda Bear inside a geodesic dome.

Seeing Panda Bear perform is a sensory, dream-like experience: once the show starts, you are immediately bombarded with not only the music, but also multiple strobe lights and psychedelic visuals created by frequent Animal Collective collaborator Danny Perez. The visuals, projected three times across the ceiling of the dome, added whole other level to the music, quite literally because they were projected above where he was performing. That was the biggest difference between this performance and the past ones in New York City, the projections were above him instead of directly over him, which meant that if you were in the first few rows, you had to look up to see the video. It was easier on the eyes, but not as immersive of an experience.

Besides the visuals, the strobe lights, and the dome, what this show really was about was the music, and as usual Panda Bear delivered. The set list was a combination of the tracks he played during those two shows, mostly from the brilliant new album Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, along with some re-worked favorites from his last LP, Tomboy. The exception to this was "Mr Noah", the first single from the album, which was played at the beginning of the encore and seemed to be one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the evening.

I have been at all three, now four shows Panda Bear played in New York City supporting Grim Reaper, and while they are all pretty similar in terms of what happens and what songs are played, it’s a great experience every time. The way Panda Bear mixes his songs, new and old, together along with the visual element is always memorable and can put you in a dream-like state for the hour or so that he plays. It was very fitting for his show to be at a museum, because every one he does really is a work of art.

Set list:
Sequential Circuits
Faces in the Crowd
Boys Latin
You Can Count On Me
Come to Your Senses
Tropic of Cancer
The Preakness
Selfish Gene
Mr Noah
Surfer’s Hymn

Text & Photos: Sara Loebig

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