Words and Pictures by Sachyn Mital
The American Museum of Natural History seems an unlikely venue for a music concert (despite having attended a Moby listening party there) but it has regularly stepped as host to One Step Beyond events. When I heard that 2009’s indie darlings Animal Collective would be doing a DJ set there, along with an unannounced “special guest”, I did not know what to expect except that I wanted in.
However, “in” took a while. After passing by the various folks desperate for a ticket, my credit card was not recognized by the computer for retrieving will-call tickets so I was forced into the longer desk queue to retrieve them. Then, after making my way down into the Hayden Planetarium, I found myself in another longer line at the back as I waited to check my coat.
While the first DJ, Activaire, was spinning, I traipsed about the Rose Center, checking out my weight on the Moon or a Red Giant Star. I had completely missed the “Cosmic Pathway” loop from the entrance, with a rather, how should I put it, “aromatic” room that seemed out of place and more suited for a jamband festival. Some people danced under the Planetarium while others congregated at some side tables with drinks.
At 10:45 the special guest(s), NYC-based electroclash producers, Fischerspooner, took the decks. They started their dance heavy set with The Shapeshifters UK smash, “Lola’s Theme” and quickly brought people to the dance floor. I tried to dig my way into the crowd when they played Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” to see if there were any hipsters ironically dancing in a circle mimicking the music video, but there weren’t. Those dancing were simply enjoying themselves and avoiding spilled drinks on the floor. Warren Fischer and Casey Spooner even became singing DJ’s during their set, sharing a bit of themselves with the audience.
Around 11:45, the evening’s main draw was set to take the stage, but not exactly as hoped for. Animal Collective has at least four members, but only one, Geologist, was there to DJ, mixers and MacBook in hand. There was no Panda Bear, no Deakin, no Avey Tare. In fact there was no “collective” to speak of--which the crowd probably should have seen coming. The musical energy waned a bit from the previous set and for those hoping to hear a lot of the psychedelic indie music from AC's lone representative were disappointed. While Geologist’s set kept many people dancing, as I could never quite break into the circle in front of the stage, some began the exodus out of the museum.
Whether this night was the blowout success people had hoped for, the One Step Beyond events always galvanize an incredible venue and the price was more than fair ($20 + fees). I assume there will be more in the future, when it is warmer, and I can spend less time dropping off my coat, and more time beneath the planets.