Live Review: Glass Animals

CCA – 17/10

As Glass Animals frontman Dave Bayley complimented an audience member on his dancing  as “Very blissed out,” there was a shift in the atmosphere. Two songs into the set, the 200-odd people crammed into the fairly tiny CCA venue suddenly knew one thing: this was no gig. This was a dance-off.

Since the release of debut LP Zaba in June, the psychedelic indie trip-hop (difficult to fit their eclectic sound into a genre so excuse the pretentiousness) quartet from Oxford have quietly made their way into the music world consciousness. They‘ve supported St. Vincent, played at SXSW and are now on a five month world tour.

The second the support act vacate the stage, the crowd moves eagerly forward to the low stage. An early highlight is ‘Black Mambo’, with strange string instrument sounds and offbeat, drip-drop synth – all seemingly centred on the fluid, snake-like energy that is Bayley’s movements on stage. His arms twirl slowly around his head as if trying to channel the sounds in the air through his writhing body and out through his mouth. His voice is a mix between the nasal tones of alt-J’s Joe Newman and Hayden Thorpe’s (Wild Beasts) breathy falsetto, and the lyrics – Bayley having said in an interview that he writes the lyrics around the particular feeling the song gives him, rather than around a theme – summon weird nightclub worlds into which we are beckoned, especially on lead single ‘Gooey’: “You just wanna know those peanut butter vibes”.

After a 20 second encore break, the band leap back on stage to perform a creepy take on Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’, before closing with ‘Pools,’ a tropical-sounding song with fast tribal drums and watery sound effects which has Bayley close to crowdsurfing and the crowd equally close to stage-invading.

The band’s staying over half an hour to talk to fans afterwards rounded off a breathless, jubilant night; Glass Animals are a breath of fresh and tropical air in the indie pop world.

[Ciaran McQueen]

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