Avey Tare, of Animal Collective fame, graced the stage of The Majestic last night to play a few songs from his solo album Down There, plus a few new ones (or so it sounded like). If I was going to give his music a silly genre-name––and I am, because this is the internet––then it would probably be Bedroom Trance. As experimental as the end result may sound, every song seems to have the same sure-fire recipe: begin with some background noise, preferably some cicadas, some frogs, ocean surf, or an overheard conversation pitch-shifted to sound menacing; add a repeating, textural bloop, a shambling, off-kilter snare; bring in a sampled instrument (auto-harp, accordion, bassoon), but layer it so many times that it sounds crunchy and vaguely mystical; lean into the microphone and begin to wriggle out a tune from your throat in a clownish, hectoring voice (no melody or pattern necessary), all while making pained, contorted faces; finally give up, waving a dismissive hand and saying, very shyly, very delicately, "Thanks."
Which isn't to say it was bad! It was great, actually. The funny thing about Avey Tare is that his songs only need to be about 35% successful to win people over; his audience has been conditioned to know what to expect. They know, for instance, that every ten minute song will only yield about 2 minutes of actual dance-ability, and somehow they don't mind. The wayward muddling-through, in fact, seems to enhance the experience by tantalizingly drawing it out. And perhaps in acknowledgment of his own deficiencies as a solo performer––Avey never strayed long enough from his smorgasbord of buttons and pads to pick up a drumstick, or god forbid, a guitar––he seemed overall much less guarded than he usually does in the full band. At one point he was even talking to the crowd––though quietly, shyly, of course––and making little jokes. "Leaf House!" it sounded like someone yelled, calling for a classic Animal Collective number, amid much mawkish whooping. "You wish," Avey said, smiling like a villain.