Despite being a long-time Glass Animals listener, I just wasn’t sure what to expect.
Not only was the band’s show at EXPRESS LIVE! Tuesday night the group’s first headlining show in Columbus, it was also my first time seeing the English indie rock band live. In talking to other concert goers, I learned a handful of us were in the same boat. But as we stood in the pit, sweaty and anxious, all we knew for sure was that things were about to get weird.
A little after 9 p.m. the lights were cut and the venue was soon engulfed in smoke as the deep unintelligible voice of the track “[Premade Sandwiches]” began to speak. Green lights rapidly flickered as four silhouettes entered from stage left.
Two pairs of L-shaped light fixtures, resembling tetris blocks, loomed over the stage. In the center hung a large disco ball over three artificial cacti. It was an oddly satisfying hybrid of themes. Ironically, the most prominent feature was the small pineapple sitting atop one of the amps — a novelty referencing the lyrics to their track “Pork Soda”.
The roughly 90-minute show seamlessly intertwined tracks from the band’s debut album “Zaba” with their most recent album “How To Be A Human Being.” This came as a surprise since the two have distinctly different overall tones.
Opening with “Life Itself,” “Youth” and the “Zaba” classic “Black Mambo,” Glass Animals emanated a simultaneously tribal, stimulating and spectral ambiance that was consistent throughout the show and is almost impossible to explain.
Lead singer Dave Bayley radiated a hypnotizing and contagious energy throughout the entire set. Seen most during the “Zaba” songs “Hazey” and “Gooey,” Bayley sang and danced in an intoxicating, snake-like fashion giving off the album’s signature melodic chaos. You could see the vitality in his face and movements. You could constantly feel the “peanut butter vibes” among the crowd. Bringing the energy back, the band rocked out to “Poplar St.” with Drew MacFarlane playing a crisp guitar melody emphasizing the sensual lyrics. The crowd grooved with bassist Edmund Irwin-Singer during his “Toes” instrumentals.
Crowd hype was at it’s highest during the energetic synth instrumentals of “Cane Shuga” and “The Other Side of Paradise.” Drummer Joe Seaward kept the momentum going with tribal and invigorating beats. Ending the main set with “Pools,” the disco ball was finally put into use as beams of light began dancing around the room, creating an impressive visual of the band members’ silhouettes and turning the entire pit into a funky 70’s dance floor.
Upon the band exiting the stage, the crowd went absolutely mental. Returning only minutes later, Glass Animals closed the show with a two-song encore of cornerstones from “How To Be A Human Being.” Starting with the highly anticipated “Season 2 Episode 3,” Bayley entered the crowd to sing, causing a mass exodus towards center stage. To top off the fun, Bayley led an enthusiastic — and surprisingly synchronized — crowd in clapping the rhythm to the banger “Pork Soda.” He later tossed the lonely pineapple to a lucky fan.
Unfortunately, it was promptly torn to shreds by a crowd left hungry for more.