IN CONCERT: Animal Magnetism

Avey Tare tears it up at Brooklyn’s Market Hotel

Dave Portner aka Avey Tare / Photo by Justin D. Joffe

How fortunate is Bushwick, Brooklyn to still have Market Hotel? The ‘70s Dominican speakeasy-turned show space has defied all of its naysayers and detractors, from developers to municipal task forces (seriously, M.A.R.C.H. had it in for them).

Now, in a timeline where big-business encroachment on local culture is explained away with a wave of the hand and a “change is inevitable,” the venue thrives as an outlier. Its owners, Todd P and Daniel Lynch, the NYCTaper himself, still work at the venue almost every night. You know who is making this music happen, and that makes Market hosting a night with Animal Collective’s de-facto main dude Dave Portner, stage name Avey Tare, all the more special.

WHAT: Avey Tare
WHERE: Market Hotel, Brooklyn
WHEN: April 1, 2019

While AnCo’s Panda Bear (Noah Lennox) has perfected his modular synth-heavy live set in pristine, layered wash of harmonies synchro to visuals in big rooms, Avey’s long taken a more performative approach to presenting his solo material. Though AnCo hails from Baltimore, their longstanding, lysergically rewired psychonaut fans who have managed to hang on and weather late-Capitalist Brooklyn remain dedicated. They are the rarest kind of sonic warriors, still seeking out the strange in a city that has largely forsaken its dives and DIY and in favor of gelato shops and hot yoga, still weathering the neoliberal finance bros who move from one luxury cultural simulation to the next.

Moreso than the last song-based AnCo LP, 2016’s Painting With as well as Panda Bear’s January 2019 LP Buoys, Avey’s Cows on Hourglass Pond leans fully into a spirit of true otherness that bubbles up in the most out there AnCo projects, one that cannot be co-opted by any malevolent forces, in Bougewick or elsewhere.

Avey Tare Cows on Hourglass Pond, Domino 2019

This is solo music, not just in the sense that it finds Avey playing without the whole AnCo (OG but oft-absent guitarist Josh Dibb, AKA Deakin join Avey and drummer Jeremy Hyman to round out the live ensemble), but because Avey’s lyrics plunder the  strange and personal depths of his psyche considerably more than in their collaborative work. His songs are not just ‘solo’ in form but in theme, too, wholly original compositions borne from a lone and unique headspace.

Considered as a companion piece to Avey’s deeply personal 2016 album, Eucalyptus, Cows flows along with the more concrete, percussive and ebullient song cycle. Eucalyptus ends with the stunningly honest and self-reflective tune about his breakup with Angel Deradoorian, “When You Left Me,” while Cows starts with Avey asking a doubtful question, “What’s the Goodside?” that he arguably answers later on in the record whilst drinking lemonade and going out on Saturdays, again.

That Avey debuted many of the Cows tunes during his Eucalyptus tour further suggests a man bearing his personal journey of moving back into a world of feeling and groove. Opening his Market Hotel set with Cows’ “Remember Mayan”, Avey spit out esoteric lyrics of prophecy (“Future is being right now”) before making it personal in the bridge: “That’s what happens when I sleep too long.”

Cow head / Photo by Justin D. Joffe

As he seamlessly switched instruments between songs—acoustic and electric guitar, and bass, all under the spell of his effects and vocal manipulations— it soon became clear how adept Avey has gotten at walking the line between ambient exploration and tight, direct songcraft. There’s this old Grateful Dead hat trick of short studio songs that blossom into journeys and roads when played live, a trick AnCo put into practice while touring Painting With. Avey’s solo music, meanwhile, has lived consistently live and on record in one or the other extreme. Cows succeeds by melding his sonic lucidity with a focus, thus requiring a group of collaborators intimately familiar with Avey’s quirks to execute live.

Thankfully, he’s got Hyman, who drummed with him in his most pop-leaning incarnation as Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, pounding the kit and cueing sonic washes like it ain’t no thang. The biggest surprise of the night had to be Deakin, though, a core AnCo member who hadn’t played with the collective since 2012’s Centipede Hz before emerging for last year’s audiovisual ambient album, Tangerine Reef. Deakin did help Avey organize and record the songs that would become Eucalyptus and Cows, so his presence is felt in the recorded versions. Holding it down  on guitar and keys with leads that might sound jarring or avant-garde on their own, Deakin’s lines fit into Avey’s rhythms like an old pair of gloves you’d had since you were a kid but thought were long lost.

Avey up close / Photo by Justin D. Joffe

Such was the power of a true collective mentality onstage, even when expressing personal journeys over communal catharsis. The band worked through nearly every song on Cows, throwing in b-side “Enjoy the Change” and Down There track “Heads Hammock” for good measure. When they arrived at “When You Left Me”, Avey carried the song without Deradoorian’s guest vocals on the record. “But are you with me, are we tied on this plane?” he sang. “Can we both say it right now? Any world can change.”

In that moment, with these newer and slightly more optimistic songs, in this venue that has survived the city’s coordinated hostility toward community arts spaces, Avey’s words took on new meaning. Any world can change, but if you stay grounded and stake your claim, you’ll still get to preserve what’s special even after the change goes down.

Grab the show here.


VIDEO: Avery Tare – Saturdays (Again)


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Justin Joffe

Justin Joffe writes about music, art, technology, and other cultural treasures. Reach him on Twitter @joffaloff.

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