By Carter Shelter, Staff Writer
Glass Animals have the potential to become one of this generation’s defining bands. Judging by the crowd’s response throughout their first of two sold-out nights at Terminal 5 last week, they’re well on their way. Through their mix of hip-hop and electronic-inspired beats, Tame Impala-esque psychedelia and unique but hooky songwriting, Glass Animals are able to play to a number of different audiences. Or perhaps more accurately, they play perfectly to the modern audience, who eschew traditional genre barriers in the same way that Glass Animals do. All of that could be lost, though, if the band or their music fell flat on stage. Thankfully, that couldn’t be farther from the case. Their show displays the same meshing of influences that their music does; part hype-up dance party, part tropical stoner groove and part sing-along pop show, but never anything less than authentic.
They started the show with “Life Itself,” the stellar opening track from their new album “How to Be a Human Being,” and from the moment its tribal drums and warbling synths kicked in, before singer Dave Bayley had even uttered the first lines, the audience was screaming with excitement and starting to get down. In a testament to the band and their fans, it seemed as though every person knew every lyric, even though “…Human Being” was released just a month before.
It was quickly evident that this was one of those shows, and maybe just one of those bands, where there was perfect synchronization between the people on stage and the people on the floor. Each time Bayley would leave out a line for the crowd to sing, they would shout it back in full force without missing a beat. Any instance where the band would pull back in a high energy moment, the space would be filled by ecstatic cheers and applause. It seemed almost impossible to separate the two entities by the end of the night.
As a band, Glass Animals display a level of talent and stage presence not always seen in their contemporaries’ shows. Music as thickly produced and as heavily electronic as theirs can be difficult to humanize, but there is real personality in Bayley’s constant and erratic dancing and the group’s insistence on live instrumentation. The punchy bass lines in songs like “Toes” and “The Other Side of Paradise” or the twisting Beatles-y intertwined guitars that propel “Poplar St.,” which cast just the right amount of menace and woozy psychedelic haze over these bubbly indie pop creations, truly come to life on stage.
There is never a sense that all of the band members are anything less than completely present during the show; each exciting musical moment is just as exciting for them as it is for the audience. When Bayley ventured into the crowd during the group’s cover of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” fans predictably went wild, but it was Bayley who seemed the most enthused, given the chance to revel in an authentic rock star moment at a point where these kinds of club shows might soon become a thing of the past for this band. Glass Animals are on the fast track to major success, and, if this tour is any indication, they may be one of the few artists who can use that to push themselves to new creative heights, to move from inhabiting the zeitgeist to influencing it.