Sunday, September 24, 2017

Glass Animals At The Shrine | Lefsetz Letter

You just wanna know those peanut butter vibes

So, the Shrine is full. Well, in the corners of the upper deck there were a few spare seats. But the rest were filled by a demo born in the nineties, the late nineties, the crowd was in the neighborhood of 19 and 20, a bit older, AND EVERYONE KNEW THE RECORD BY HEART!

The band took the stage, sans canned tracks and production, and hands went into the air and a roar emanated from the assembled multitude. HOW DID THEY ALL KNOW?

Aren’t we supposed to be living in a hip-hop world? Check the statistics, by no measure are Glass Animals stars.

“Gooey” went to #26 on rock radio back in 2014.

“Life Itself” went to #21 in the same ghetto last year.

Their first album, 2014’s “Zaba,” peaked at #177 with a grand total of 136,000 sold.

“How To Be A Human Being,” released last year, made it to number 20.

And it’s not like they’re burning up the charts in the U.K. The first album went to #92, the second to #23.

“Gooey” has 97 million streams on Spotify, nothing to sneeze at, but there are acts with more plays who can’t sell anywhere near this number of tickets.

“Life Itself” is at 34 million.

But data seems irrelevant to those in attendance.

And who were they?

Not millennials. They don’t even remember Napster. They’re not burdened by history whatsoever. Scratch them and I’d say they like hip-hop too, but Glass Animals is closer to alternative, closer to the English music of the eighties than the urban sound of today.

But the band is a raging success.

And either you know it or you don’t.

I was the oldest attendant, by far. And the point is we’re experiencing a schism, between the old and the new. The boomers are seeing the classic acts, and the youngsters have completely disconnected. But if you were there tonight watching Glass Animals…

No way you could say they were bad.

Actually, what you’d say is…SAME AS IT EVER WAS!

Remember being young, knowing the album by heart and needing to see the band in concert?

That’s what it was like.

A swarm of bumping, bending bodies, entranced by the music.

You’d think it was the seventies.

But there was a different act on stage.

I still don’t know how they know. But they do.

We were debating this all night. Theories were posited. “Gooey” had a long time on the radio, then again, none of the tracks peaked. Maybe listeners found the band by looking at Related Artists on Spotify.

Now we used to have a whole level of bands like this. But we read about them in magazines, there were only a few thousand albums a year. But now there are triple digit thousands released a year, it’s a great morass, the history of music is at your fingertips, it’s a singles world, but these fans had gone deep and knew the band’s oeuvre completely.

Then again, music is portable. Once you’re interested it’s available 24/7. We had to go back to our dorm rooms.

So this show was definitely about the music, about the vibe, but the lead singer, Dave Bayley, is an AMAZING front man. Getting up on the furniture and twisting to the tunes like only a white boy can do with the music inside him, not soulfully, but as if he was beamed in from another universe.

He knelt, he climbed into the audience, but he wasn’t working too hard, he was not trying to convince us, he just seemed to be following his own muse, he got the party started, and we partied!

But this was not a festival gig, where it was about the audience. Everybody was bonding with the band. Looking at the stage, usually sans phones, they wanted to be in the trance.

It was so peculiar. Finding something fully-baked that most people are unaware of. Greta Van Fleet tops the Active Rock chart and only have 4.8 million streams of their biggest song, but with even less success on traditional metrics Glass Animals is selling more tickets. Sure, they’ve been around longer, but…

What is happening here?

These were not scenesters. These were college students. Taking a Thursday night off. They were not dressed to the nines. And at least half of the audience was women. Then again, the biracial guy behind me mouthed every single word. Sure, L.A. is multicultural and multiracial, but physically the groups are separated, yet they’re all here together at this alt-rock show?

I wanted you all to come and see. All you pooh-poohing today’s music. You would have gotten it, you would have been wowed.

It was refreshing. It was exciting.

For all the hype in the media, all the “stars” saying LOOK AT ME, there are still acts focusing on vision and execution who are not working it, not putting themselves in our faces 24/7, who are leading with their music.

And it’s not me-too.

Glass Animals doesn’t sound exactly like anything else out there. You can hear the roots, but how it’s put together…

I can’t take this place, I can’t take this place
I just wanna go where I can get some space

Isn’t that what music used to represent? An alternative, a refuge? Before it became about commerce, bucks? The music released you, set you free, made you feel all gooey inside, made you feel like someone else felt what you felt.

We felt it tonight at the Shrine.

P.S. On wax, “Gooey” is good, live it was transcendent. We’re used to bands unable to replicate their hits. But on the road Glass Animals has polished the track, it’s got an energy absent on the recording, the entire audience turned into Gumbys when this played.

P.P.S. The first encore was Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Yup, that’s an oldie by this audience’s standards.

Truth be told
I’ve been here, I’ve done this all before

At the Fillmore East, at emporia where the bands were known by the attendees and seemingly nobody else, before AOR radio anointed hits and then MTV made them ubiquitous.

I’d say I told you so but you just gonna cry
You just wanna know those peanut butter vibes



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