Concert review: Glass Animals brings epic visuals, electrifies audience on ‘Dreamland Tour’
Glass Animals played at Hollywood Forever Cemetery on Saturday night for a stop on their “Dreamland Tour,” with vivid lights and bright backdrops. (Ariana Fadel/Daily Bruin)
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
By Vivian Xu
Sept. 19, 2021 4:23 p.m.
Glass Animals wields more than just heat waves – they’ve harnessed a tsunami of zeal.
Performing Saturday at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, British psychedelic pop band Glass Animals rocked the iconic venue with enough bravado to wake the dead. Surrounded by silhouetted palm trees backlit by a dusky sunset, the group’s electric performance and the clamoring crowd stood in rather comical contrast to the slumbering graves nearby. Nonetheless, the concert crackled with vivacity, thanks to a standout performance from frontman Dave Bayley and phenomenal visual aesthetics.
Though unassuming at first glance, the band’s stage setup cleverly brought to life the album cover of their latest record, “Dreamland.” All set pieces were an identical pastel purple, with replicas of the album art’s diving board, basketball hoop and pyramid. While this color palette would’ve been monotonous on its own, the humdrum benefited from flashing neon signs hung across the stage that added some zest.
However, the real star of the setup was the massive faux computer screen that mimicked the outdated 2000s Windows design also found on the band’s website. As the clock ticked down to Glass Animals’ appearance, an archaic popup window counted down and playfully teased the crowd with rapidly fluctuating wait times – some as long as one year – until it finally displayed a gloriously technicolor welcome screen just as the band casually strolled onto stage.
During the performance itself, dazzling lights and short clips exploding with color enhanced the show phenomenally, visualizing the abstract candyland of “Hot Sugar” and the sentimentality of childhood in “Youth.” With enough flashing lights to heed a photosensitive epilepsy warning, they were thankfully effective, timed perfectly to the rhythm of each track and supplementing the extra pizzazz for every beat drop.
But even without the abstract visuals and clever stage setup, the band’s dynamite stage presence alone would have been enough to set the venue ablaze with excitement. Though the group was dressed in rather minimalist streetwear, with basic trousers and the most adventurous top being a cropped jersey, their easy chemistry was clearly palpable from each exhilarating electric guitar duet to every staccato clap-along.
Bayley himself carried the majority of the performance’s effervescence, punctuating his animated singing with dramatic gesticulations and an ever-present waggling tongue. His eclectic dancing – which ranged from spinning around in circles during musical interludes to pounding his chest in sync with beat drops – bounded with energy, largely due to the fact that it felt spontaneously free rather than meticulously choreographed.
While Bayley occasionally seemed out of this world with exuberance, the rest of the band brought a balancing calm that prevented the swell of fervency from crashing to the ground. In particular, bassist Edmund Irwin-Singer grabbed a hold of the spotlight with his sultry bass lines, managing to straddle the line between exuding quiet confidence and bold swagger as he sauntered across the stage.
And despite several fans catcalling Bayley and brashly insisting that he was daddy material, the frontman soldiered on through the heckling with the grace of a veteran performer. But frankly, his decision to ignore unwarranted comments may have led to an unfortunate overall neglect of the audience, as the band rarely spoke directly to their fans during their set. Aside from a few brief introductions of tracks and generic comments about Los Angeles, their music was the sole form of communication.
Yet in terms of the sonics themselves, the band is one of the lucky few that sounds identical – if not even better – live, as they do in their records. With a set list covering equal portions “Dreamland” and “How To Be A Human Being,” as well as a smidgen of “ZABA,” the group managed to gracefully weave together familiar favorites with new tracks, seamlessly transitioning from the bouncy beat of “Space Ghost Coast To Coast” to the lustful croons of “Take A Slice.”
Plus, with a general admission audience packed tight like sardines, Glass Animals took full advantage of having the crowd at their mercy. Feeding off the buzzing audience by prolonging waits for beat drops and dancing with a pineapple before tossing it into the crowd, the band was expertly adept at recognizing what fans wanted – and teasing them for a bit before granting their wishes at full force.
Concluding the night was a stripped back version of their hit track “Heat Waves,” an encore gift rewarded after several minutes of cheering. Several times throughout, Bayley turned the microphone towards the audience for them to sing while he stood dumbfounded, later remarking that it was the loudest any crowd had sung the song all tour.
And though the singing may have been all so incredibly loud, it was nothing in comparison to the electricity of the night.