Gig review: Panda Bear, Electric Brixton

Music contributor Mark Muldoon reviews Panda Bear at Electric Brixton.

Panda Bear at Brixton Academy. Photo credit: Mark Muldoon.
Panda Bear at Electric Brixton. Photo credit: Mark Muldoon.

Electric Brixton is a room that must have seen some sights. The Africa Centre clubnights of the 1990’s, My Bloody Valentine’s 2013 comeback show, the Torture Garden Winter Wonderland Xmas Ball. One wouldn’t be blamed for presuming Wednesday’s Panda Bear gig may not live on in the memories of the venue’s staff to quite the same extent. 

Panda Bear is a one-man-twiddles-knobs-on-stage-for-75-minutes affair. He’s a touring Ed Sheeran for people who subscribe to Pitchfork’s YouTube channel. These people aren’t the kind of fans you’d like to get stuck chatting to at a house party. If you do, ask them what their favourite ever Independent Label Market was, which should keep hold of their attention long enough for you to chat up their date.

Before that there’s support act Jib Kidder to wade through, whose loose Jagwar Ma-like jams and jarring, wobbly vocals succeed in making one couple so bored they busy themselves with their ongoing four-player smartphone game of Scrabble instead. Less than 15 minutes later Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) strides on stage, and things pick up. Lennox’s electronic rhythms flow together harmoniously live – perhaps helped along by a need to maintain a certain pace, shaving off Lennox’s on-record temptations to noodle around in sonic experimentation for longer than your average listener has patience for.

Throughout, the music and visuals compete to out-psychedelia each other. We’re not talking visuals that are exactly pushing the envelope in a manner Flying Lotus – for example – is right now, but they work as a method of distracting you from looking at a man on stage that clearly wants you distracted from looking at him.

Promoting what has been widely accepted to be Panda Bear’s most accessible album to date, it’s a good year for your average festival-goer to stumble across Panda Bear in a mid-afternoon slot and take him to heart. A woman bounds on stage during the encore and appears to urge Lennox to wrap things up. He’s really hit his stride by now, and he’s thankfully having none of it. The audience, in their own understated manner, respond gratefully.

Written by Mark Muldoon.