Over the years Animal Collective, the experimental pop group with Baltimore roots, has been something of a confounding live act. They would headline gigs and play material most of the audience had never heard, songs they were still developing. With the meteoric success of 2009's Merriweather Post Pavilion and its 2012 follow-up, Centipede Hz, and the expectations that came with gaining a larger audience, the band's live sets took on a more traditional approach, often serving as a vehicle for promoting the new material but also supported by a few selections from the band's previous records. Tuesday night at the 9:30 Club found them in a somewhat unfamiliar territory: performing nearly a year removed from their last album with nothing but their back catalog from which to draw.
Which is to say, Animal Collective had to rely on the hits, as much as a band as divergent and awash in noise as Animal Collective is can have a "hit." They more than rose to the occasion, performing a pulsing set of songs dating back to 2005's Feels that demonstrated how the band's full, four-piece lineup could be a proficient force equal parts air-tight and elastic. As the Animal Collective is wont to do, a lot of their most familiar songs from past albums were tweaked, reworked, or enhanced, creating something familiar yet adventurously new.