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Review: Panda Bear at Majestic Theatre Detroit – 5.1.18

panda bear

by David Gimpel

Before the show, kids as far as the eye could see were in the parking lot of the Majestic Theatre, preparing to have their minds blown in ways their parents would likely disapprove of. And based on the excitement of everyone at the end of the night, Panda Bear succeeded (sorry, parents).

Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) is one the of the founding members of the highly influential experimental group, Animal Collective. Not ringing any bells? Well, he was also featured on “Doin’ it Right” from the Grammy awarding winning album by Daft Punk, Random Access Memories. Remember that?

Opening the show was Animal Collective bandmate known as The Geologist. His set opened a bit rocky, but after some time eroded away, it began to crystalize. The set was reminiscent of a rave at the forest, as he used field recordings of ambient sounds with huge bass blasts. Wearing his signature headlamp for the set, he did a great job preparing the audience for our headliner.

Panda Bear casually walked on stage, where behind him were three screens and two strobe lights on each corner that were used heavily throughout the night. In front of him was sampler beat machines, a mini moog synth and various other little gizmos that made Panda Bear sound like one-man party.

Panda Bear at Majestic Theatre – 5.1.18

He started on a more meditative note with the song “Flight.” The colors and lights swooshing around the room perfectly complimenting the music and set the tone for the night. He got the crowd moving with bouncy tracks, “Boys Latin” and “Crosswords.” The visuals in these songs featured a character that looked like the Grim Reaper from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” going to a rave.

The new song, “Nod to The Folks,” featured air raid sirens behind a massive dance beat as strobes filled the room. It made me think of how awesome this would have been at a festival (Maybe next year, Movement?). He offers so much to everyone, from experimental electronic music to indie rock.

The highlight of the night was the encore, which began with the beautiful “Tropic of Cancer.” It’s one of Panda Bear best songs, and it elevated the audience and drenched them with emotion. On the video screens were two dancing and embracing blue aliens… which I know sounds weird reading on its own, but trust me, it made sense in the moment. That’s probably the best way to sum up a Panda Bear show: it sounds weird, but it made sense in the moment.

The night closed with a wall of strobe lights, colors and a hypnotic thumping bass line. The Grim Reaper made his triumphant return to the screens, luring us to come back for one last song. The visual probably did exactly what all the kids had hoped to happen: blow their fucking minds.

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