Glass Animals at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Oxford-based four-piece Glass Animals released their debut album Zaba last year – a slinky masterpiece, shot through with humid rainforest sounds and the sensual falsetto of lead singer Dave Bayley. With echoes of Alt J’s groundbreaking An Awesome Wave, it’s an addictive and distinctive sound, melding mellow beats with a disorientating eeriness.
Tonight, the stage at Shepherd’s Bush Empire is dressed as a rainforest and the auditorium is packed with a very young, wild crowd. At the front the crowd surges and sways with the beats. Bayley keeps trying to get among the fans, but there’s a bouncer lurking continuously behind him, which rather ruins the effect of abandon and showmanship. Bayley is an enthusiastic frontman, throwing the kind of big, uninhibited shapes his band’s music deserves.
Every song Glass Animals play is true to the album and just as exciting live, with their oblique lyrics and tribal-influenced whirling beats. Hazey, Cocoa Hooves and Wyrd sound just as fresh and hypnotic as you would expect. Biggest hit, Gooey, is enchanting, and the deliciously ominous single Black Mambo writhes and crawls through the venue. The only issues picked up on are down to the venue: the sound is just a little too low, meaning the burble of a sold-out, hazy crowd is totally audible. The bouncers are over-officious, lurking insistently to clamp down on any fun.
Having said that, the lighting and staging is witty and fun. A lot of thought has gone into dressing the stage, down to the smallest detail. Bayley tosses a stuffed pineapple that’s part of the stage design into the crowd, fought over more than a bouquet at a wedding. The victor waggles said pineapple triumphantly for the rest of the gig. The encore consists of a cover of Kanye West’s Love Lockdown and finishes with Pools. Bayley bids farewell, promising knowingly: “See you at the festivals in the summer.” This is an exciting prospect: festivals are the natural habitat for Glass Animals’ loose, sensual music. Sunshine will make the beats sound even better.
Photos: Erol Birsen
For further information about Glass Animals and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Hazey here: