Animal Collective, BARR | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Animal Collective, BARR

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There are some who believe in the romantic notion that banging around long enough without rational constraint will eventually result in something brilliant. For certain purer devotees of the primitive, banging around without rational constraint is brilliant in and of itself. Feels (Fat Cat) has sorely disappointed the latter, or at least confused them enough to suggest that ANIMAL COLLECTIVE has grown more conventional or rock or song-oriented or some such craziness. True, the lyrics are now often discernible--theoretically maybe even explicable--but they make more sound than sense, as when "the bees the bees the bees the bees" suddenly tumbles into a memorably un-beelike growl. And yes, rather than gliding along on subtleties of timbre or texture, each track assumes a tangible shape--the astounding "Grass" is overstuffed with melodic lines, which repeat just often enough for you to mistake it for a pop song. But rather than impose a familiar structure on their clickety-clack percussion, undulating feedback swells, piano cascades, and singsong vocals, AC lets the songs tumble forward with the loose logic of a dream, making no distinctions between anticipatory build and climactic peak. The droney bits are still a snooze, but I figure all playful children deserve melancholy lullabies. --Keith Harris

Brendan Fowler is one of those introspective individuals who seem more interested in asking questions than finding answers. He's one of the founders of ANP Quarterly, a large glossy full of nonsucky conversational interviews with artists your coolest friend has maybe heard of. As BARR, his solo spoken-word performance act, he uses dreamy-boy lyrics over vaguely jazzy canned beats to explore subjects like obsessive compulsion, emotional growth, and why certain people act like they're at the top of the food chain. Occasionally his lyrics make annoying references to the fact that he knows he's reciting a song, and he's a little bit emo when he gets all intense and his voice starts cracking and a little bit wacky when he gets nasally. But BARR seems to come from a sincere place, which is really all you can ask for when dealing with something so conceptual. --Liz Armstrong

Animal Collective will headline two shows: BARR opens the early one and First Nation opens the late one. Sat 2/25, 5:30 and 10:30 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $15. Limited advance tickets are still available for the early show, but they're all gone for the late show; a limited number of tickets will be available at the door for both. All ages.

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