Thursday, April 19, 2012

Plants And Animals Played Mercury Lounge - Pictures, Review

Last night we stopped in at Mercury Lounge for Plants And Animals' second show in a two night New York run. Packed into the tiny room, the show was exactly what we had hoped for: a raucous celebration of rock and roll energy combined with a solid dose of musical wizardry and prowess. The band, who continue to reach new heights each time we see them, delivered a killer set for an appreciative crowd, and left us unquestionably hungry for more.

Since the last time we saw them the band have clearly been coming into their own with their new four piece lineup.  Whereas the show in Brooklyn last December showed a group feeling out the boundaries of having a full time bassist, last night was a full fledged exploration of the territories that such a foundation affords. Most of the time there were two guitars blazing in intertwined leads, and even when one went acoustic, the other still was a tour de force of pedal-driven sonic exploration. On top of all this, there was also the welcome addition of a Fender Rhodes, which lent texture to a number of tunes, including a reworked version of "Game Shows" that simply slayed.

One of the most interesting things about Plants and Animals' always-expanding live show is the way that it builds on all of their previous experience. When things change, it's not some abrupt shift. Rather, it's another iteration on a previously explored successful formula, now enhanced with new and meaningful nuance to explore some new facet of sound.  Last night's show unquestionably dipped its toe in the lake of "true" rock and roll.

Without question, the group has always been a rock band, but last night saw them take this vibe to new heights. The vocals were more aggressive and less choral, the arrangements were more foot stomping and the guitars more fuzzy, overall the band just clearly had the urge to rock. All of this was underpinned by the pieces that make Plants and Animals one of the best live bands today: The group have a rapport that is simply unbreakable, and makes for moments of practiced serendipity that never cease to delight.

For us, the highlight of the evening came with the performance of "Lola Who?". The track, which is culled from the band's Avec/With EP, is one of our all-time favorites. It's a sprawling epic that navigates its way through enough sounds that you feel like you've been on a trip for a week after listening. The band seldom plays the tune, and to hear it live, with the advent of their new lineup was, in short, mind blowingly awesome.

We'll be the first to say it: you'd be a fool not to catch up with Plants And Animals on this tour. If we had to guess by the packed house last night, this may be the tour where they begin to graduate to larger venues, and the opportunity to see them "up close and personal" gradually disappears. Whatever the case, the incentive to be at these shows is undeniable, because doing so means catching a band that is close to, if not at, their creative peak.

More photos at the HAD Archive


philip turner said...

A real nice review and great photos. Well done. I was at the same Mercury Lounge show, my first time seeing them, and you put your finger on many things that were latent in my thoughts. I also did a write-up of the show on my blog, bundled with another show I saw that night. I hope you enjoy mine too.