Dream Setlist: Glass Animals

Dream Setlist: Glass Animals

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In an endeavor to relish in lost days of packed crowds and stage barricades, Boston’s Harper recounts her favorite live moments from psychedelic pop group, Glass Animals, in a sequence all her own. 

The world I live in is perpetuated by live music. Since high school, regular concert-going has been  a tool through which I made my long weeks shorter – months of work and school-induced stress were divided into smaller palatable segments. As you might’ve guessed, these weeks without live music have felt longer than most. I seek solace in many ways. In my own words, through which I can rediscover my connection to music in a remote manner. In the words of others, through which I can find camaraderie and sympathy relishing days of packed crowds and spilled beers. And of course, in the musical livestreams flooding our feeds that feel as intimate as a friend sharing a song they’ve just written yet as distant as a screen and shoddy internet connection can deliver. Perhaps the most healing consolation of all is the memory of The Last Concert (we all have one – although I’m not sure any of us knew at the time that it would be The Last). I don’t mean to boast, but mine was GOOD – an intimate performance by Glass Animals at the tiny 500-cap venue I work at in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The demand for the show made my staff-status largely ineffectual, but I managed to snag a coveted comp with the help of a kindhearted supervisor.

Since that tour was brought to premature close, Glass Animals has far from disappeared from the purview of fans. They have released a series of “quarantine covers”, as well as their latest single, a homemade music video, and even an open source database (which I’m not remotely tech-savvy enough to utilize to its full extent). All of this preludes the group’s third album Dreamland, due for release on July 10th. I’ll never succeed in effectively reliving That Last Concert to the likes of myself let alone you, but here goes my solid and very sincere attempt (curated to reflect my personal setlist picks!).

 

1. Tokyo Drifting (with Denzel Curry)

Glass Animals, Denzel Curry - Tokyo Drifting

Because GA has so many songs capable of getting an anticipating crowd moving, I should say “Where do I begin?” when it comes to the first selection in this track listing. But let’s be real, I know exactly who merits this coveted number one spot. The group’s valiant return to music following a three-year hiatus was a collaboration we didn’t know we needed with bass-heavy aestheticism that assured it was designed for the stage long before it fell on the ears of its first crowd. This standalone single cast an electrified control over the room I heard it in that I can only pray eventually gets the live-run it deserves.

2. Your Love (Déjà Vu)

Glass Animals - Your Love (Déjà Vu) - Official Video

As the first album single of Glass Animals’ third act, “Your Love (Déjà Vu)” raised the bar for lyricism, touching on topics of desire, confliction, and doubt in a track frontman Dave Bayley aptly dubbed a “conflicted booty-call anthem”. The hurried vocals and bright ambient textures lend themselves to a contagious energy in a concert hall setting, as well as harrowing reminders of past flings almost too universally relatable to the thorough listener.

3. Hotline Bling – Quarantine Cover (ft. Arlo Parks)

Glass Animals - Quarantine Covers. Episode 4 With Arlo Parks (Drake - Hotline Bling)

I had to throw in a quarantine cover, because they’ve without a doubt been a major contributor to my sanity this quarantine. Originally streamed live and subsequently uploaded to the band’s YouTube channel, Dave’s production process is absolutely fascinating to watch and has only furthered my appreciation of this band. His distinctive voice finds a way to complement seemingly any genre from Nirvana to Lana Del Rey while ultimately concocting something that is uniquely Glass Animals. I’ve highlighted “Hotline Bling” specifically because of the manner their multi-layered synth is able to supplement Drake’s tropical atmosphere – something I hope they’ll opt to eventually showcase live!

4. Gooey

Glass Animals - Gooey (Official Video)

What can I say about “Gooey” that the indie kid who’s trying to tell you about “good music you probably haven’t heard of” hasn’t already said? But really, “Gooey” was the cornerstone contributor to my and my high school friends’ sesh playlist – so much so that the mix was entitled “Gooey” in its honor. This track’s emblem “peanut butter vibes” add a transcendental ambience to the room that simply can’t be omitted from any Glass Animals playlist or setlist.

5. Season 2 Episode 3

Glass Animals - Season 2 Episode 3 (Official Video)

What’s more fun than being in a pit of hundreds of people and getting to scream the lyric, “My girl eats mayonnaise from a jar while she’s getting blazed”? This song embodies all the best parts about Glass Animals with its quirky aesthetics, eccentric lyricism, and unconventional sampling. It’s absolutely anthemic to everyone who lives in a world of leftover takeout, un-dyed roots, and dirty laundry. On behalf of lazy girls everywhere, I thank Glass Animals for this one.

6. Dreamland

Glass Animals - Dreamland (Official Video)

Our next track slows down the tempo and dilutes the room’s electrified energy with otherworldly soundscapes I imagine would be entirely hypnotic in a concert-setting. As the title-track of Glass Animals’ upcoming LP, “Dreamland” has conquered the peak of lyrical vulnerability as echoed vocals lead us down a trail of introspection, laced with cascading reverberations and underlaid by dream-like textures. It highlights the extent to which Glass Animals can push both lyricism and instrumentation and sets the tone for what stands to be the group’s most rewarding sonic venture yet.

7. Cocoa Hooves

Proceeding GA’s latest track is one of their earliest, off of their first EP in 2012 that garnered the attention of producer Paul Epworth and launched their career under the label Wolf Tone. Overlaying expertly woven acoustics with detached reverberations, “Cocoa Hooves” culminates in an eruption of electronics that is gratifyingly dark and trance-inducing, and deserves all the admiration for its role in establishing the group’s distinctive sound.

8. Poplar St

As the penultimate track of How To Be A Human Being, “Poplar St” earns its placement within this list for its entrancing guitar riff reminiscent of 90’s indie rock — both accentuating GA’s genre-driven eclecticism and demanding to be played in front of a live audience. This track also marks the album’s initial diversion from a succession of biographical tracks, each focused on a semi-fictitious character, to a narrative unique to Bayley. This ultimately gives way to a deeply personal examination of the human condition on final track “Agnes”.

9. Agnes

Glass Animals - Agnes (Official Video)

This is the part of the show where you get uncomfortable because I’ve started crying next to you, probably because I’ve never heard “Agnes” live and I doubt I’ll be ready when the day comes. I won’t try to fully understand the emotions that invoked the writing of this song, but it is exactly that notion that lands “Agnes” amongst my favorite songs of all time. Crushing lyrical imagery (“Your head is so numb/ That nervous breath you try to hide”) is appropriately reinforced by what I believe to be one of the most ingenious music video concepts ever, involving frontman Dave Bayley dubbing lyrics while inside a human centrifuge. The grueling details of the physical toll such a machine has on the human body are outlined in the description of the video, likened to the emotional turmoil “Agnes” aims to capture. Bayley says:“This was probably the most intense video-making experience I’ll ever have. But it’s the only way we could just about begin to simulate for a moment what happens within Agnes.”

10. The Other Side of Paradise

Glass Animals - The Other Side Of Paradise (Live at Red Rocks)

“The Other Side of Paradise” is the track I remember myself frantically Googling after my first Glass Animals show in 2016, shortly after the release of sophomore album How To Be A Human Being. I attended on a whim after a friend impulsively purchased tickets and promised a show worth seeing, although I had never heard of the band (I am forever indebted to her!). In retrospect, this was the obvious choice track to gravitate to – “The Other Side of Paradise” takes on a reality-altering air when played live that remains unmatched in my mental rolodex of live-music-moments. I will not argue this assertion further – hit up YouTube to see this song performed in the rain at Red Rocks in 2018 (I rest my case).

11. Pork Soda

Glass Animals - Pork Soda (Official Video)

A classic favorite of the band to play live, “Pork Soda” commemorates the side of the group that is purely fun and celebratory -- often accompanied by a crowdsurfing pineapple or two. The lyrics, “Pineapples are in my head / Got nobody ’cause I’m braindead” have become an anthem to fans and emblematic of the psychedelic jam out at the conclusion of any Glass Animals set.

12. Youth (Encore)

Glass Animals - Youth (Official Video)

The last song of a concert always manages to carry an air of conflicting bitter-sweetness – we as concert-goers cling to fleeting minutes of simple joy while evading encroaching reminders of real life (Finding an Uber? Waking up for work tomorrow? Two things I don’t miss about that lifestyle). “Youth” captures this feeling almost impeccably. The song is about the pain of nostalgia coupled with the juxtaposition of optimism and serenity of being hyper-aware of what’s left behind. Above all, it’s a celebration of finding a way to be happy in the wake of heartbreak, and I hope music fans have the chance to do just that someday soon.

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Please note: Not all songs featured were available on Spotify

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