September 29, 2021 at Leader Bank Pavilion
In between my pre-concert oh-my-god-I’m-seeing-Glass-Animals freakouts, the first thing I noticed after arriving at my seats in the Liberty Bank Pavilion was the stage. It cleverly animated Glass Animals’ third studio album Dreamland’s cover, featuring a huge pyramid, a basketball hoop, a neon hotel sign, and even a diving board positioned over the pit. Colorfully lit palm trees outlining the stage, an ethereal fog rolling through, and an enormous 2000’s window desktop-style computer graphic created an atmosphere that immersed me in the senses and sounds of the moment.
As the crowd trickled in at 7:30, opener BLACKSTARKIDS woke the audience up with their nostalgic indie-pop tunes. The Kansas City trio, composed of TheBabeGabe, Dieondre, and TyFazon, was rocking out the whole time, and by the end of their short 30-minute set, the crowd was cheering and hyped for the main performance. With 20 minutes to go, a lone gentleman sauntered out onto the stage, placed a pineapple prop on the ground, and left. The crowd went wild, knowing the spiky fruit is iconically mentioned in “Pork Soda,” off of their second studio album How To Be A Human Being.
Finally, the moment we had all been waiting for. Glass Animals kicked off the concert with “Dreamland,” the opening track on the psych-pop band’s newest album. Released in August 2020, Dreamland scored No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums and featured the summer hit “Heat Waves.” Lead singer Dave Bayley took no time to show off his electric dance moves as he bounced across the stage. Each song flowed seamlessly into the next, adding to the surreal atmosphere as the signature chimes of Glass Animals’ older works complemented the psychedelic graphics that matched the band’s vaporwave aesthetic. The props, graphics, and monochrome neon lighting tied the show together to immerse the audience in the music and bring the album to life.
In the middle of the set, Bayley announced to the audience he was actually born in Massachusetts before moving to the UK, making the concert a special homecoming event. Throughout the night, Bayley showed off his impressive vocal range and exhilarating dancing abilities. A highlight of the show was during the performance of “The Other Side of Paradise,” one of the most popular tracks on How To Be A Human Being. The static TV graphics, striking lighting, and dramatic fog enrobing the stage perfectly matched the intense beat and chord progression of the song. When singing the lyrics “I feel so fucking numb, it hits my head and I feel numb,” Bayley appeared to be in physical and mental agony as he sang his heart out to the audience. And the feelings were mutual – everyone in the audience knew every word of every song, and not a single person I could see was sitting.
Only amplifying the immaculate vibes of this concert was the uncanny similarity the band had to their studio productions. It is rare for a band to sound identical to their studio work live, yet I was blown away by the indistinguishable sound. Many times throughout the concert, the band would stand huddled together and jam out, as if performing in a garage, rather than in front of thousands of people. The nonchalant attitudes of the band, composed of childhood friends Joe Seaward, Ed Irwin-Singer, and Drew MacFarlane, was an entertaining contrast against Bayley’s high-energy singing.
After an exhilarating performance of “Pork Soda,” the band thanked the audience and said goodnight, which not a single person took seriously considering the two most popular songs had yet to be played. After five minutes of feverish cheering, chanting, drumming, and crying from the audience, the crowd was graciously rewarded with an extravagant encore of “Tokyo Drifting” and “Heat Waves,” which has more than 639 million streams on Spotify.
Overall, this thoughtful and cohesive performance left me completely blown away and in love with Glass Animals even more than I already was. It takes more than a good song to get a crowd going, and Glass Animals pulled every trick out of the book to ensure their performance was a dream no one wanted to wake up from.