Panda Bear delights his fans at Paradise Rock Club

Panda Bear
with Home Blitz

February 4, 2019 @ Paradise Rock Club

Panda Bear’s set felt like one seamless mix. I didn’t expect anything less from the legend.

Inside Paradise Rock Club, the crowd still couldn’t escape the effects of the snowstorm wreaking havoc outside. The show was supposed to start at 8 pm, but Home Blitz, Panda Bear’s opening act, didn’t start playing until 9. I was impressed that they hustled to the venue all the way from New Jersey and managed to give it their all despite getting stuck in the snow.

That night, they were missing a member, making them a 3-piece band comprised of frontman Daniel DiMaggio on vocals and guitar, Jason Sigal on bass and Henry Hynes on drums. During one song, the backing track included an electronic drum beat which was strange given the presence of a live drummer and the fact that the two weren’t always in sync. Later, they played another questionable song where the bassist and drummer stayed silent while DiMaggio sang over a jaunty, almost medieval-sounding piano backing track. It was interesting but ran on way too long. This song, as well as a spoken word passage with no backing instrumentation whatsoever, were quite uncomfortable given the intimacy of the space. The standard garage rock that permeated through most of their set was definitely more enjoyable but not by much. They wrapped up after a mere 20 minutes, but the set felt much longer. I can’t say that Home Blitz was worth the wait. I would’ve much preferred another ambient set from Animal Collective’s electronics wizard, Geologist, who opened for Panda Bear’s stop in Boston last year.

Noah Lennox (aka Panda Bear) wasted no time getting on stage. As soon as Home Blitz’s equipment was cleared away, he emerged decked out in all Nike and Adidas, rocking a pair of Sol Republics. He started his set with “Crescendo,” a cut off of his new album Buoys. I remembered hearing him say in an interview that he put a special emphasis on the sub-bass while making Buoys. Though I couldn’t really tell from listening to the album on my headphones, I immediately understood when I heard the songs through Paradise’s incredible sound system. The bass was intense as much as it was soothing and enveloping, which starkly contrasted with the next song he played. ”Shepard Tone,” from his A Day with the Homies EP, is filled with pummeling beats and jagged synths, and much like the other songs on that EP, was a much more visceral experience that beckoned you to move. Noah spent most of the set alternating between Buoys and Homies songs, and despite the projects’ differing sounds, he somehow blended them into one seamless mix. It was impossible to tell when one song ended and one began, so the crowd had no idea when to clap.

In my interview with Noah, he told me that the set was going to consist mostly of Buoys and Homies songs with potentially a few older ones, and that’s exactly what it was. He played only two older songs, the first of which came halfway through the set. I was shocked and delighted when he started singing “Comfy in Nautica” from his 2007 album, Person Pitch. I was not expecting him to go back more than a decade into his older discography. I could tell from the excited chatter and people singing along that the rest of the crowd was just as pumped as I was. The version of “Comfy” he played was completely reimagined, with synth pulses and electronic drums replacing the vocal samples and hand clapping; it fit in with his newer music really well. A little bit later, he played “Part of the Math,” the banger that I was waiting for. This was one of the few songs that I remembered vividly from his show last year and I definitely won’t forget this year’s performance either. The relentless beat and hard-hitting, noisy synths make it a thrilling song to hear live. After one more Buoys and Homies song each, he thanked the crowd and walked off stage, leaving his synth blaring and visuals flickering.

He started the encore with an unreleased song called “Playing the Long Game.” The instrumental was fascinating with its wavy synths and head-bobbing beat. I could totally imagine a cloud rapper performing over it, and I’m excited to see how it fits into his future releases. Noah closed the night with “Last Night at the Jetty,” one of my all-time favorite Panda Bear songs. It was incredible–easily my favorite song of the night–and one of those moments that will give me goosebumps whenever I think about it. I couldn’t have asked for a better closer and I was ecstatic to finally hear it live since he didn’t play it at his Boston show last year. I was surprised that he didn’t play “Dolphin” or “Token,” the two singles leading up to Buoys, but I can’t complain since it was such an awesome show. I didn’t expect anything less from the legend.

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