Having recently toured internationally everywhere from Glastonbury, Coachella and Bonnaroo; it was a welcomed change to see Glass Animals play to a relatively tiny crowd at 170 Russell on a chilly Wednesday night. Opening with ‘Life Itself’, this trip-hop tune features a drum beat akin to African drumming and was very well-received by the crowd; coaxing the stragglers away from the bar, ‘Life Itself’ was perfect party starter to set the tone for the entire night. The underlying tribal rhythm, driven by drummer Joe Seward, helped the band effortlessly move into the energetic territory of ‘Walla Walla’ and ‘Hazey’.
The most popular track of Glass Animals repertoire is ‘Gooey’ and was a highlight of the night for myself and, judging by the crowd’s reaction – a crowd favourite too. ‘Gooey’ is a brooding, sexual number which features pulsing basslines and the falsetto from lead singer Dave Bayley; it is calming and fits so well with the blip-like synth accompaniment. ‘S02E03’, ‘Black Mambo’ and ‘Gold Lime’ are followed, the crowd continuing on an ethereal journey marked by minimalist beats, harmonies and ambient sounds. Curating their sounds through lush image, Glass Animals are a truly unique band and such can be attributed to the straying away from the traditional indie-rock/pop progression and moving towards a suave, off beat realm in which pleasure is the centrepiece. With some help from the underrated, indie-rock styling of the energetic Glass Animals, a quiet Wednesday beer with a small group of friends turned into a drunken, home-at-5AM-type-of-Wednesday and whilst work on Thursday was terrible to say the least, it was well worth it.
Returning to the stage for an encore, Dave Bayley showed his true showmanship and solidified the simple point: He is a man who can work a crowd. After leaping off the stage, he made his way through the screaming fans whom, at one point, didn’t look like they were going to let him go and proceeded to climb onto the bar-top towards the centre of the room. Fortunately for me, I was literally about a metre away as Bayley and band belted out a cover of Kanye West’s ‘Love Lockdown’ with the microphone cord dangling awkwardly across punters heads – but it was hardly noticed, everyone was too busy having a good time. Finishing with a number that is a great representation of the signature Glass Animals sound; ‘Pools’ has tribal drums, glacial sounds and silky vocals. One of the most exciting live acts of 2016, Glass Animals are making music that is experimental, ambient yet and terrifically executed by a very tight group. Their sound is anything but the traditional brit-indie rock band, and that’s why they’re so damn refreshing.