Okay – so this post isn’t only going to be about my blind date. I have to be honest up front, because if the emails are anything to go by, it’s the only thing y’all are interested in. The blind date thing was a bust (is anyone actually surprised?)

But the story of going to see Animal Collective is far more interesting.

Animal Collective 1

I was introduced to the band via English Fiona (there are two of us – it’s kind of cute. We’re referred to by our surnames, like we’re little English schoolboys). She likes to play their albums – they’re a bit out there, a bit screamy, a bit full on. I liked it!

Then we found out they were gigging at the Astoria. Everyone bought tickets, except me – because I’m hopeless and forgetful. A few days before the gig I stumble on a competition asking “if you could be one animal what would it be?” I answered “A Platypus – ugly, intriguing, functional”. And I won tickets to go to the Animal Collective gig. Hooray!

Animal Collective 2

Which is where the blind date comes in. As I said, everyone I knew who wanted to go had organised tickets. So I was set up by a mutual friend with a guy she knew who wanted to go to the gig, and she thought I might think he was cute etcetra etcetra.

On the morning of the gig, he cancels. He got back together with his ex-girlfriend the night before, and she (quite rightly) opposed him going on the blind date with me, on the grounds that it might not be the best way to begin a committed relationship together. I’m fine with this – I’m happily single, and not that keen on dating yet. Plus I could do without the complications of spending time with a guy who is obviously still carrying around ex-girlfriend/current girlfriend baggage…

Animal Collective 3

But now I have a spare ticket, and another call around to my friends finds that everyone is either busy, or already has tickets. So English Fiona and I decide to try to sell the ticket at the gig. Mind you, neither has ever tried to do this before, and we’re a bit scared, but we figure it’ll all work out.

However it’s not as easy as it sounds. Ticket buyers and ticket holders all go through security first, before separating, so from outside the venue it’s hard to tell who needs to buy a ticket and who doesn’t. We’re both too worried about getting caught, and the first person we approach gives us a 5 minute lecture on the evils of ticket touting. Frankly, we suck at this! Plus we’re both such goody-two-shoes, and we kind of agree with the ranting-lady. So we give it up as a no-go and move into one of the most packed venues I’ve ever been in.

The building is old with lots of stairs and labyrinthine corridors. Peeling wallpaper, mouldy carpet, bad lighting. Perfect! It’s the size of Freo Metros, but the upstairs tiers are higher, with better views.

Animal Collective 4

We move downstairs, and after listening to a very cool supporting act, the main attraction comes on stage. A cacophony of sound, screeching guitars, screaming singers, drums so intense my feet are reverberating off the ground. The music was estatic. Psychedelic. Madness. Beautiful…

There were low points – some of the screeching took on Sonic Youth-like proportions by going on and on and on and on in a highly ‘experimental’ way. But the gig was amazing. The music carried you away – even the annoying ‘clapping with and against the rhythm’ of the drugged-up 18 year olds in front of me was excusable (although the guy behind me kept bizarrely swearing in my ear “if they weren’t girls, I’d grab them so fast and tie their god-damn hands too their ears…”!!??).

The lead singer had the sort of American twang that is so drawn out, his words literally come out of his mouth, take a little stroll across the stage and then finally reach your ears. But it worked – his playing was fairly magnificent, as was the rest of the bands. The drummer was almost invisible, until suddenly in the middle of a song the most glorious, deep, smooth voice rose above all the other sound…

Animal Collective 5

Climaxing with the same stomach-dropping, breath-taking noise they began with – suddenly they were gone. All that was left was half a warm Red Stripe in my hand, and the stunned faces of people standing around me – none of us quite able to move.

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