Lead singer Dave Bayley kicked off his shoes, no more than eight minutes into the set, while I swayed my hips to the warm jungle vibes that filled the venue. Bassist Edmund Irwin-Singer followed suit, adding to the already-casual atmosphere, and artist Drew MacFarland flashed a boyish smile toward my camera. If I hadn’t fallen in love with Glass Animals listening to their debut album “Zaba,” or talking about cake and meerkats with them backstage before the show, I had then.
After hitting all the major stops in Europe, Glass Animals made their way to Headliner’s Music Hall on Lexington Ave. last night. Their impressive set of 11 songs, featured lesser-known titles like “Walla Walla,” “Cocoa Hooves,” “Hazey” and “Wyrd,” as well as the 91.9 WFPK hit radio single “Gooey.” The lyrics were just as strange as their titles, with phrases about “peanut butter vibes” and “wiggle toes on wicker braids.”
Each member brought their quirks to the stage. Their Instagram account, @GlassAnimals, indicates a strange affection for pineapples, which Bayley confirmed when sophomore Kami Anderson and I asked for his miniature pineapple figurine during the show. He shook his head no at us, then with a smirk, took to the microphone to announce to the crowd, “You can’t have my pineapple.”
Bayley was not the only quirky man in the bunch. After the soundcheck, I spotted drummer Joe Seaward waving his arms and dancing around the music hall to no music. MacFarland told me he was most excited for his “biggest tambourine solo of all time” in the band’s track “Pools.” And while the opening act — a local DJ named Ellie ― performed, the group supposedly went out for pizza, delaying their start time until almost 10:30. I can’t blame them, though, considering Spinelli’s was just down the road.
“There are four of us. We’re all dudes. Except Drew — he’s quite feminine,” Bayley laughed. “No, he’s not. He’s the manliest of the bunch. If you write that, he’ll find it funny. He’s probably doing his hair right now. There’s one called Edmund, he’s really tall, and he looks a bit like a meerkat. Acts a bit like one as well. Drew, over here, is a sleepyhead. And this is my friend Joe. He plays drums, hits things with sticks–sometimes me. And I haven’t told you much about myself. I like cake.”
The group had a clear chemistry, making jabs at one another offstage, and playing guitar intimately close onstage, at times. The four have been friends since they were 13.
“We’ve been friends for a very long time,” MacFarland said. “It’s a blessing and a curse. But the good side of it is that when you have a big argument, it doesn’t really matter, because you’re still friends. It’s cool working with people you’ve known for that long, because you know what their influences are, what they listened to as a kid, and musically speaking, where they come from and where their head space is at.”
Bayley’s smooth voice and the group’s signature synthesizer grooves, paired with the deep fuschia and navy backdrop and matching lighting scheme for a chill, but bumping concert. The artists enchanted me with their fluid harmonies and rhythm. I was transfixed, both on their mystical feel, and on Bayley’s almost-sultry dancing. From time to time, when he sang about holding a woman close, he would pull his guitar tight to his body, curling it into himself.
“The album is meant to be a sort of journey, sort of trip,” Bayley said. “We want you to put your headphones on and go to an alternate universe. In this case, it’s sort of tropical, like animal noises and stuff are being played, it’s meant to take you to the forest for a little bit. It’s meant to be a big, tropical rain forest dance party and chill out session.”
Louisville was the second stop on the band’s US leg of their tour. Glass Animals, straight out of the United Kingdom, were ready for a new kind of audience.
“US crowds are always insane. They’re really, really cool,” MacFarlane said. “Crowds in Europe are great too, but people in the US really go nuts. They scream, they dance, all that. Also, you get huge diversity in the crowds here in the US. It’s weird.”
They seemed to like Kentucky too. I reminded Bayley about Kentucky’s monopoly on bourbon, and he grinned, exclaiming “I like bourbon!” During the concert, he riled up the audience, sharing how someone told him Kentucky is famous for bourbon.
“Who’d you hear that from?” I yelled back at him, from just below the stage. “Everything’s better in Kentucky!”
He flashed me a smile, and pointed his fingers at my friend and I. I think I melted. I also may have chosen a favorite band member at that point. Dreamy–and talented–Drew MacFarland was a close second.
When MacFarland expressed his taste for Headliner’s Music Hall, I agreed, and told him my last show there was a burlesque and variety show.
He lit up, “Oh, that’s basically what we do!”
As great as that would have been to witness, the show they put on was probably better.