Based on the latest local guidelines, attendees are no longer required to provide proof of negative COVID-19 test AND/OR vaccination for entry into this event. Other shows on our calendar may still have specific health and safety requirements based on artist request. Be sure to check our venue website for the latest updates and guidelines as entry requirements are subject to change.
ABOUT ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
Over two decades have passed since Animal Collective accidentally began to reimagine the sound and image of what’s easiest here to call indie rock. From the start, they turned the ultimately rare trick of tucking inscrutable experiments into songs so infectious they became generational standards, empowering a new permissibility within a sometimes-stodgy scene. They helped make the world safe for The Grateful Dead and tie-dye, or indie rock open to the Gamelan and Juju. Influences, they implicitly insisted, matter less than the music and spirit they inspire. Such paradigm-bending lessons are now simply part of the paradigm, philosophical cornerstones of modern music. But Animal Collective have never sat still, even on the cornerstones they helped create.
Time Skiffs, the quartet’s first studio album in more than half a decade, feels like listening in on a conversation among four old friends, just as it felt during their inchoate early days or their Strawberry Jam heyday. These nine songs are love letters, distress signals, en plein air observations, and relaxation hymns, the collected transmissions of four people who have grown into relationships and parenthood and adult worry. But they are rendered with Animal Collective’s singular sense of exploratory wonder, same as they ever were. There are harmonies so rich you want to skydive through their shared air, textures so fascinating you want to decode their sorcery, rhythms so intricate you want to untangle their sources. Here is Animal Collective past 20, still in search of what’s next.
It has been easy in these last two years to be more anxious than ever, to give yourself over to the sense that here we are at the end of days, every day. There are traces of that on Time Skiffs, moments of worry about the future we’re creating in the present or consternation with the moments we face now. There is sadness, turmoil, mourning. But there is mostly an undeniable joie de vivre to Time Skiffs, an excitement with love and life and nature and (sometimes) people. There are extended stargazing sessions, discursive country drives, contented creative nights, long-distance phone calls. There is gratitude and acceptance and exhilaration. “It’s really new every day,” goes one line that sticks out not as some overwrought thesis but as a genuine realization, an epiphany in real time. That is the prevailing sense of Time Skiffs—that, at our absolute best, we can be ever new, always in awe of what is yet to come.
Despite the protracted gestation, Time Skiffs is shorter than most Animal Collective records. But as it ends, you long to linger for a while longer, to coexist with the band in this full state of being and feeling. That is perhaps the real feat of Time Skiffs, made by a band whose songs seemed so audacious and new that their emotional cores could sometimes be overlooked. Here is the heart of Animal Collective.
Avey Tare has said that, for him, hearing music has always been a way to be transported, to be whisked away to another time for three or seven or ten minutes at a time. These nine songs, then, are now your own Time Skiffs, your vehicles for traveling to the wilds of Western North Carolina or a sunset surrounded by seagulls or a New Orleans night making music with your friends or any other moment, however real or imagined, that floats into your mind. For these 47 minutes, you feel like you belong somewhere else, like you’ve returned to a place that feels both familiar and foreign, where reality is bent just enough to suggest some beautiful new horizon. Enjoy the trip to whenever and wherever these time skiffs may take you.
ABOUT SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE
Ever since SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE released their self-titled debut in 2014, they’ve developed a reputation for being your favorite band’s favorite band. Theirs is the music of immersion, of confrontation, the kind that makes a listener stop and wonder, “How are they even doing that?” And as the years wear on, that sense of bafflement has made room for SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE to quietly but steadily ascend, with their most recent album, 2018’s Hypnic Jerks, leaving them poised on the precipice of wider recognition.
On April 9th, 2021 SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE released their fourth album and Saddle Creek debut, ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH. The album signals new chapters for the band on multiple fronts, being the first to feature their new three-piece lineup, as well as the first to be entirely self-recorded and produced. Guitarist/vocalist Zack Schwartz and bassist/vocalist Rivka Ravede are now joined by new member Corey Wichlin, a multi-instrumentalist who relocated from Chicago to the band’s home territory of Philadelphia last year. In the spring of 2020, the trio began to write their new album at a distance by emailing files back and forth. “The process of making this album was basically the exact opposite of our experience creating Hypnic Jerks,” Schwartz explains. “We had to record that in seven days, because that was the studio time we had, whereas ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH was made over the course of three, four months.”
An abundance of time wasn’t the only difference. Recording remotely offered the band an incentive to experiment with new possibilities for their sound, resulting in an album that is unlike any SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE has released before. Once the band finished recording and mixing the album digitally, they mastered it to tape, lending the collection a textured, dimensional quality. “We knew we wanted to use some new instrumental elements on this album,” Wichlin says. “We’re not going fully electronic,” Schwartz adds, “But guitar, bass, drums just get kind of monotonous.”
ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH opens with a sonic squall, an abstract composition that transitions into the brisk highway meditation “ENTERTAINMENT.” As a listening experience, the album is a persistent exercise in the bait-and-switch, in what the band describes as a conscious effort to draw the listener deeper into their mystifying manufactured landscape. Take “GIVE UP YOUR LIFE,” a sprawling track that drops two semitones from beginning to end, a cheeky mastering decision that would fool anyone trying to play along. “There are some bizarre tunings on this album,” Schwartz says while reflecting on the process that wrought the single “IT MIGHT TAKE SOME TIME.” “That one started out as a pretty normal rock song, but then we heavily fucked with it to make it feel more discordant.” “Now it sounds like drowning,” Ravede adds.
Though ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH doesn’t cohere in a single, unifying theme, the band samples old obscure commercials throughout, many of which guided the process of writing a song instead of serving as an appendage. Schwartz describes his songwriting process as a stream-of-consciousness, while Ravede asserts that she doesn’t typically write vocal parts with any specific intention in mind. “When I write, the narrative usually doesn’t present itself until after the song is done. And even then, it depends on how the listener interprets the words,” she reflects. Regardless of how dreamlike SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE’s lyrics can be, reality rears its head throughout ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH. “THE SERVER IS IMMERSED” is perhaps the poppiest song on the album, but it borrows inspiration from Schwartz’s day job working in the food service industry. Lyrically, it tracks the monotony of the day-to-day, inducing hypnosis until all three band members begin to sing, snapping the listener out of the spell.
If there’s a song on ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH that best encapsulates what SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE is all about, it’s “THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN’T DO,” a track that illuminates the growth that this band has undergone since their foundation to now. The song wrestles between the sublime and the monstrous as Ravede’s feather-light vocals are overtaken by Schwartz’s strained howl, underscored by shattering live drums that recall the band’s scrappy origins. “This song draws on some of the sonic aesthetic of SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE’s old records and aligns those sounds with the electronic instrumentation we’ve been exploring,” Wichlin says. ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH isn’t a metamorphosis, it’s simply the newest iteration of a longstanding project. “There’s a line in the Bee Gees documentary that I think applies to us. I’ll paraphrase: ‘We may not have always connected, but we always stuck around,’” Ravede says. Schwartz jumps in, “SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE: we’re still here.”