Last Night: Panda Bear and No Age at Karu & Y

pandabearmiami.jpgArt Damage with Panda Bear and No Age
Friday, December 5
Karu & Y, Downtown Miami

Better Than: Everything happening that night on the planet Earth if you happen to take Pitchfork or College radio charts as the gospel.

The Review: The rumors of a No Age/Panda Bear double bill during Basel begin about three weeks ago when opening band The Sads posted the event to their MySpace with few details. An Animal Collective (Panda's main band) obsessed friend gave me the heads up, and it was then that I knew, more than anything I've ever known before, that I must be there. Panda Bear's Person Pitch came in at number of my favorite album for 2007 -- which I keep because I am a nerd -- and I already saw the man responsible for number one, Johnny Jewel, at last year's fair. No Age, too, had put out two amazing LPs in as many year (they got an out of left field, but completely deserved, Grammy nom earlier in the week for best packaging for their Sub Pop debut Nouns, which, in a perfect world, should be competing for Rock Album of the Year, too).

Then last weekend the flyer hit the internet not only carrying the dreaded words "by invite only," but also revealing the show would be held at Karu & Y. Karu & Y? Really? The infamous downtown club more known for hiring reality television luminaries like Tila Tequila and Kendra Wilkinson for part appearances than awesome concerts? The fear of $20 drinks aside, I, like many, tried my luck RSVPing anyway, and got a quick confirmation. All was good in the world, until we posted it here on Crossfade. The organizers caught wind, and sent out word to anyone who had been confirmed reminding them that if you didn't get an invite, then sorry, you're not actually getting in. Which turned out to be, surprise, surprise, a bunch of bullshit. They let pretty much everyone 21 and over in, and I scoured the entrance for anything resembling a guest list. There wasn't one.

Unfortunately, I missed most of The Sads' set, which should probably make me a sad, but No Age started shortly after. Unsurprising for a band whose studio set up is probably crafter to replicate their live sound as close as possible, they sounded pretty spot on live. They whipped through a good mix of songs from both Nouns and the 7-inch collection Weirdo Rippers, and included a couple of new songs. One of which might have been called "Fuck Prop 8 in the Face." It seemed a lot of the crowd at Karu & Y was generally oblivious to what was going on, as like only maybe a third of the people in the club were paying attention, and the ones who were weren't sufficiently rowdy for No Age at first. Remember, this is a place where Akon hosts events, not The Smell. They gave the "Please pick up the energy or we're never coming back to Florida" ultimatum, which kind of sucked because, uh, most of the crowd wasn't from these parts.

Now, I am generally the quiet, awkward type boy who prefers to stand arms crossed spiritedly tapping my toes during shows, but if a band commands moshing, someone better do it and thankfully many did. The first mosh pit at Karu & Y ever? At least since it re-opened. The bouncers probably got the message that they shouldn't interfere, but I saw one guy clearly nervous and ready to jump in at any second. So there was moshing, and No Age was happy and bouncers weren't, and towards the end I even found myself in the mix.

After a quick break for some more free Grolsch -- approximately my 9,000th of the week. Seriously, Grolsch has underwritten all of the drunkenness happening on this side of the bridge all week. Viva la swing cap -- Panda Bear started. Some people understandably don't take too kindly to a guy who sits alone behind some beep beep boop machines, twiddling knobs, and only providing live vocals, but Person Pitch was made that way, and it sounded oh so right. A good portion of the set were songs I didn't immediately recognize. So it seems there's a healthy amount of new material in the works, and it's all in the vein of the last record.  
Panda Bear is music made for quiet, awkward type boys who prefers to stand arms crossed spiritedly tapping their toes during shows, and I was nearing Heaven. Until the people behind me, two dudes and their hag, started going on like they were in the middle of Twist and the only music being played was some shitty Junior Vasquez remix of Beyonce. Didn't they understand this is not music to talk loudly over, but to be respected? Didn't they care just how long I've been anticipating this show? Didn't they know I was having a religious experience? Don't they remember the first time they saw Cher? Because this is what this was for me, and in my own way I was just as excited. So, through some mix of being in a mosh pit 30 minutes before, free Grolsch, and unmitigated love and respect for Panda Bear I turned and yelled "Can you please Shut! The! Fuck! Up!"

Uh, it didn't work. One of them grabbed my hand and tried to get me to dance. My friend offered to switch place with me, but they still wouldn't shut up, so I did what quiet, awkward boys should always do in the first place, and decided to move to the other side of the crowd, and not a moment too soon. Panda launched into the 12-minute centerpiece of his latest album Bros. I called my friend who had alerted me to the show in the first place so he could partake in some digitally connected way, and awkwardly, and quietly toe tapped my way to something nearing nirvana.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Well, if you couldn't tell I am pretty unabashed in my love for these two bands.

Random Detail: The Ice Cream Man strikes again. Thanks for the chipwhich.

By the Way: DJ Semen selected the music between sets. I've never heard of him, there's nothing I can find online (most results have something to do with sperm banks. Our Crossfade post on the show was the first relevant thing that came up), and the program that Nike handed out at the door had no information on him either. I don't really remember enough to provide any sort of incite into his sets, but I do remember liking them in a way beyond "oh, he's playing my favorite song ever!"

[photo credit: Arturo Hernandez]

-- Kyle Munzenrieder
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