Animal Collective

House of Blues, Sept. 25

This wasn’t a show. It was a UFO sighting.

The sounds were sometimes agreeable and sometimes dissonant. The lights pulsed, shimmied and stuttered in time with the music. And the four humanoid figures who emerged from this phantasmagoria scarcely communicated with the crowd, instead manipulating a variety of scientific instruments.

Thankfully, I wasn’t probed—and the alien entity played a bunch of my favorite Animal Collective songs, expertly and with joyful abandon. Under a set of multicolored arches whose shape can fairly be called “Seusslike,” the men from planet Baltimore tore through an all-killer-no-filler set that veered from the dreamlike (“Rosie Oh”) to the dynamic (“Wide Eyed”) to the driving (“Moonjock”). And even if it is kind of easy to poke fun at Animal Collective’s earnest geekiness and Pink Floyd-lite stage show, there’s no denying that when they poured it on—as they did with incendiary versions of “Today’s Supernatural” and “Peacebone”—bodies rose out of seats and shook, as if manipulated by an occult hand.

There’s more still I can say about this. I could tell you about the shape of the stage: It approximated a giant mouth, with glowing teeth. I could describe the crowd that witnessed the event—record-store employees, one and all—or the woman near me who, possessed by forces unknown, did a surprisingly sexy fishlike dance to “My Girls.” But as I said before, this was a UFO sighting. And to tell you about such a thing in too much detail would rob the event of its awe. ★★★★☆

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