Stranded In Stereo: WTF: Animal Collective Name New LP Merriweather Post Pavilion

Thursday, October 9, 2008

WTF: Animal Collective Name New LP Merriweather Post Pavilion

You know, one would think that I'd be stoked or something when a band names their album after a venue I frequented quite a few times in my teen years. Approximately 70 minutes from my hometown, outside of our nation's capital lies the city of Columbia, MD. It's known for one thing and one thing only, I believe: the Merriweather Post Pavilion. I've seen four shows there since high school (Metallica, 1999; Pearl Jam, 2000; Weezer, 2002; Radiohead, 2003) and to be honest, it's not my favorite place to see bands though I have had some memorable times there.

I like your traditional outdoor sheds and amplitheatres, but let me tell you this: if you are at a sold out show and in the lawn, like I was on Labor Day 2000 for my first ever Pearl Jam show, you can't see shit. If you're down too far on the grassy hill, you can't see over anyone who are under the pavilion to see anyone on stage. There is one screen out there, and that's on top of said pavilion as well so it sucks. I have had some good moments there: it was the last time I saw Weezer and it was during the great Enlightenment Tour where Rivers Cuomo had a set list generator and that night in question found them playing almost the entirety of Pinkerton. It was the first time I saw Radiohead, and will never forget the bass cutting through me when they opened with "The Gloaming," or when Stephen Malkmus, who opened up for the 'head, played "Old Jerry" at my request (or at least I'd like to think it was because 19 year old me kept yelling for it between every song. I did yell thank you after it was over.) And maybe more importantly, it was that summer between freshmen and sophomore year when the camera man at the Metallica show focused in on some girl who would flash the entire crowd. It was not awkward being with my best friend and my parents, no not at all.

So, a few days ago I heard reports that Animal Collective, of nearby Baltimore, Maryland, have a new album coming out in January. It apparently is going to be called, you guessed it, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Why? I do not know. The real question is, why am I so bothered by it? Maybe it's beacuse I've never really gotten in to, or given in to all the hype and overrated talk of Avery Tare and whoever else is in the band. Yes, Panda Bear's Person Pitch made my Top 30 albums list last year on the basis that "Bros" was an immaculate 12 minute jam. Does this mean I should like Animal Collective? No. When I frequent message boards and Pitchfork reviews and other blogs, and they talk about the opus that is Strawberry Jam, I just don't get it. I don't get the craze, I don't understand it at all. What is so good about them? Most importantly, the Pavilion is not a place you'll really be able to rave out and dance around like their fans probably do. It's a nice secluded wooded area off of Route 29, y'know? To me, they're like The Smiths or Morrissey in how people fawn over them. Ask my best friend from college about my Morrissey impression, and how I sing such droll bullshit to the tune of "Panic."

So, yeah. Dear Animal Collective: don't ruin my childhood. Don't take your Alpha Hipster Status and apply it to a place my Dad saw James Taylor at and I would've seen Lollapalooza at in 2004 if they didn't cancel the whole tour due to poor ticket sales. I want to remember it for those few good moments in my life, seeing someone wearing a Kids in the Hall shirt and seeing three-quarters of Sonic Youth for the first time. Let me give you another name for your next record: how about Big Fucking Deal because everyone thinks you are one, and I say "Animal Collective? Big fucking deal!" and mean it as in "Oh, the show is sold out and I can't get a ticket? Big fucking deal, I'll survive." It's not like it's a live album, or they've played there, or they ever will. I guess I shouldn't complain so much, it could be a lot worse. They could've called it 9:30 Club or The Ottobar.

At any rate, I leave you with this. If one of my favorite bands, say The Dandy Warhols, use their word play and ended up naming their next album The Dandy Warhols Invade Merriweather Post Pavilion, I still wouldn't like it. It's like the separation of church and state, there needs to be a distinction between band and venue on studio albums. If it's a live record, sure, I'll accept it for what it is as some contract-fulfilling money pit. But if you're making a studio album, let's be more creative shall we?

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