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Going to Streamland with Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Glass Animals are a genreless, boundary pushing group that found serious success in 2014. In 2020, the group made their return after two years off, and they surged even further ahead of where they were when they left off, giving them numerous Billboard hits. However, monetary and charting success is not the goal for Glass Animals. They’ve been focused on crafting unique musical anc performance experiences for their listeners and fans since the beginning.

 

For the sake of fans and the arts, Glass Animals announced Live In The Internet, an online concert filled with special guests. Immediately, the show pre-sold over 15,000 tickets. Fans were clearly excited, especially after their live shows had initially sold out in seconds (pre-pandemic). 

The concert was produced by Globe Productions/Eagle Rock, who have worked with the likes of  Miles Davis, Iggy Pop, Heart,  Lenny Kravitz, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Queen and so many more icons. Dave explained how they used creative ways to make the project, “Gaming and social media have pioneered the way people do this and how people enjoy the internet. I think there’s a way to pull some of that cleverness into a streamed music event. So, we’re going to try to do something with that in mind, instead of just performing live to a totally empty room. We did that like every day on our first tour when we started the band, and it’s really not so fun!”

This show comes during a time when countries are trying to divest from the arts. The United Kingdom’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has granted £257 million  to 1,300 concert venues from their £1.57 billion relief package. However, it also comes after those working in the arts were encouraged to retrain and find new work amidst the pandemic (it should be pointed out that the arts is one of the most profitable sectors of business in the UK). With the virtual concert, Glass Animals’ new work really is “in cyber,” after all… 

 

Hot on the heels of their late night show visits, exciting music videos from their smash hit Dreamland album and even FIFA 21 World soundtrack credit, the Live In The Internet show was bound to be brilliant. The entire program was packed with energy, excitement and so much necessary joy. Glass Animals did something incredible and immersive, taking fans from Dreamland to Streamland. As with everything they do, the project was incredibly conceptual and told a story. Live In The Internet was not just a concert, but an experience.

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Welcome to The Internet

Before the show even began, fans were abuzz in the comments, counting down to the concert while chatting about their excitement, nerves, where they live and pizza. Much like a normal concert, the show did not begin exactly at 8 PM, much to the chagrin of their fans. Something about the delay was strangely comforting, as it was so normal. A large QR code was featured, which viewers could use to further their concert experience. 

 

The introductory video featured testimonials from fans in lines of crowds around the world going to see Glass Animals recreate their original tour. The sense of community was very apparent, as it showed fans interacting with Dave. You can tell how much the fans care about the group and how reciprocated this adorement is. There was a clear sense of community within the crew and band, as they showed them backstage running through pre-show rituals with their tour manager. They were packed into a small greenroom, clasping hands and taking deep breaths together – all of which would be unthinkable during the pandemic.

 

Fans carried and threw various pineapple props, which is the fans’ mascot for the group. It began after fans spotted the pineapples throughout Zaba, and it spread so widely that there is an official ban on pineapples at the Reading and Leeds festivals, which fans have fought. Drummer Joe Seaward sits on stage shaking a pineapple maraca.

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Dreamland

The concert begins by booting up a computer, which is used to direct the entire experience. The staging nostalgia of the sticker-plastered big desktop computer is combined with the digital-age concept that drove the Dreamland album. Wearing the famous Dreamland sweater, Dave sings their hit single, “Dreamland.”

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Life Itself

They move on to fan favorite “Life Itself,” which is a classic of the group’s off of their 2016 album How To Be Human. The performance is high energy and the impressive sets weave in swirly vaporwave imagery. Dave sings, “I can’t get a job so I live with my mum/I take her money but not quite enough/I sit in the car and I listen to static…”

 

In between the sets, Dave runs over to a street mailbox inside the studio and pops a letter in. He chats with the audience about the concert, “I think it’s going to be wicked,” he teases, “There’s no tall people to stand in front of you.” (thank goodness for that) It still feels like a real concert, as Dave is interacting with fans. He explained his plan for this to press, “I think 90 percent of a live concert’s atmosphere comes from the crowd. It’s about that togetherness and everyone getting on the same level and everyone in the room being part of the same thing. It’s impossible to create that same feeling on the internet. That’s why people still go to sports matches instead of just watching on the TV. That atmosphere doesn’t exist on the internet, BUT…the internet is good for interacting in a different way. It’s the most powerful thing in the world. You can do things on the internet that you can’t do in real life. It is a new type of performance space. Just like you’d perform and interact differently in a tiny club to how you’d perform in a stadium…you have to interact differently on the web.”

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Tangerine

Dave announced that a special version of “Tangerine” is out at midnight and was joined by special guest  Arlo Parks. Fans were screaming in the concert chat. Arlo’s bright and light voice was an interesting and beautiful addition to the song. Dave and she bumped elbows after her solo and he smiled, “I know we’re not allowed to hug.” Once the song ended Dave took a baseball bat and swung it at the hanging tangerine fixture, causing an explosion of orange confetti.

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Hazy

“Are you guys ready for another special guest? I am!” Dave cried and contortionist/cancer Kaner Flex, is introduced, like his feature in the official “Hazy” music video. There are Jurassic sounds from Edmund Irwin-Singer’s setup and a jungle background. The stage is filled with palm trees, xylophone chimes that sound like drops of water and electric trills that sound like bird chirps or screeches. Dave runs to the mixing pad and adds some sounds in a few breaks where he’s not singing or playing his mint green electric guitar. 

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Black Mambo

A “brand new song, never before played live” was introduced as Dave peels off the Dreamland sweater. Dave sings, “What’ll it be?…Whisper it slow/Curls of smoke…Dance with me/Shake your bones. Snake eyes…”  The song is smokey and windy, filled with intricate instrumental solos. It’s a song meant to be heard live in a small setting.

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Hot Sugar

“Hot Sugar” begins, perfectly blended from the mystery track. It looks as though Dave is lying in a pool, while he lies on a float on a distorted screen stage. The scenery and performance is cool and summery, the track is reminiscent of when the album first came out. Dave Kicks the pool float and the floor turns into a disco space to dance. The way he points at the cameras still feels like he’s staring down at the barricade, as if one was really in the room.

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Tokyo Drifting

“Tokyo Drifting” is dramatic, full of dark blues and electric hot pinks. There’s new energy and vocalization from Dave and you can really tell how excited he is to be back on stage. Denzel Curry makes a surprise appearance on the desktop computer, cleverly woven into the show. Both Dave and Denzel throw out Street Fighter punches, matching the meaning of the song.

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

The Other Side of Paradise

With the next song, “The Other Side of Paradise,” from How To Be Human,  the stage suddenly appears more clear – Think of that energy that The 1975’s  stages had in 2014/15/16. The stage was actually similar to The 1975’s stages looked like on their 2019 tour. In fact, director of Live In The Internet, James Barnes, directed the VEVO live show for The 1975. “The Other Side of Paradise,” still sounds like the original recording, but with added energy from Dave’s jumping.

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Space Ghost Coast to Coast 

Dave continued to talk with the crowd as though there was a venue worth of people to hype up, “How are you all doing tonight?” Drew MacFarlane sheds his synchilla fleece, as the lights shift. The segment is darker aesthetically and musically than their other performances of the night. Dave sings, “You think that you’re Space Ghost/You’re wanted coast to coast…” 

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Heat Waves

Fans’ faces fill the desktop, the stage and all surrounding screens “This is as close as we’ll get to a real crowd,” Dave says. The group’s dedication to the fans is literally hanging all around them, as fans sing along virtually. The longing in the song takes on a new meaning, as both fans and the band want to be together in person. Dave adds some new runs on “faking me out” before the show abruptly crashes for Eastern Standard Time viewers. 

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Season 2 Episode 3

“Thank you to all our special guests! That was wicked. Definitely the best Zoom meeting I’ve ever had. Season two episode three!” Dave wraps the virtual visitors screen time by typing on the desktop. The production then partially goes to VHS while Dave takes polaroids before singing “Season 2 Episode 3” from How To Be Human. The song’s playful sound is enhanced by this approach. 

 

The show Crashes again, sending fans into a frenzy. They’re horrified by the idea of missing a song or any kind of special moment from the group. Even after the stream crashed fans continued to swap social media handles, share recordings, wish each other goodnight and discuss their lives. The concert may have ended prematurely, but the purpose of connecting the fans and simulating a live concert was wholly authentic.

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Youth

The screens are covered in Dave’s and fans’ home videos during “Youth,” which emphasizes the homey meaning of the track. This is also similar to the music videos on Dreamland, despite the track coming from their 2016 album. “Thank you to everyone who sent in home movies for this one! And my parents, for sorting out mine – My momma!” Dave calls out to the crowd.

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Your Love (Deja Vu) – Stripped Back

At the beginning of the set Dave takes the keyboard, while Drew comes to the center of the stage with his bass guitar for a moment. This was how they did the production of this song during their FIFA 21 World premiere. He sings, “Too far from over you/Beams from your M2/Are blowin’ through my room/And now you lay down in my shoes/You dyed your hair blue/Oh, so much déjà vu.”

 

After the initial synthesized vocalization from Dave, the red lights flick off and it shifts back to the initial high energy portion of the song. 

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Gooey

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

The blues of the stage are replaced with turquoise, signaling a shift in the show. Drew plays chords  on the keyboard while Dave hops off thestage and walks over to a rack of costumes. “Normally I go out into the crowd for this one. We get all sweaty together. You can sing along from home if you want,” He says while shuffling the old stage outfits around. Dave turns to the camera and spreads his arms with a triumphant smile, “This is gooey.” It’s the sort of moment that would elicit raucous screams from fans, if the band was in the venue with them. 

“Gooey” comes from their 2014 hit album, Zaba, which launched internationally. After Dave sings the beginning, the stage is bathed in a royal blue light, and it appears as if the group is underwater with the jellyfish that’s swimming on the screen behind them. The lights come up as Dave plays the guitar during a break with serious fluidity, again matching the fish – they all move in a way that is positively gooey. Dave sings, “Mind my simple song, this ain’t gonna work/Mind my wicked words and tipsy topsy smirk…”

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Pork Soda

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Dave steps over to Drew to collect a pineapple, and a pineapple disco ball drops from the ceiling. The band begins to clap out a pattern while Dave speaks to the audience and paces the stage, “Well guys, this has been one of the funnest things we’ve ever put together. Thank you so much for being part of it and allowing this. We miss doing it in real life, but we’ll be with you soon. I promise, I promise, I can’t wait for that moment. This is our last one, for now. Miss you, love you, thank you!”

 

The group concludes the night with “Pork Soda” from How To Be Human, as the stage shifts to a purple and black and white display. Dave sings, “Let’s climb the cliff edge and jump again/Pineapples are in my head…” The show wraps with Dave and Edmund spinning in the center of the stage, shredding on guitar.

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Leaving the Streamland

Image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet

Dave tosses the pineapple towards the desktop setup where he started, and sparks explode. “Error: an unknown error has occurred” boxes fill the screen before the message, “Dedicated to our crew and all of those who work in live music,” appears. 

Credits roll before an  iPhone video and Dave and Joe appear, using a massage gun on stage, “Ooooh this looks so sketchy. Look at how much pleasure Joe’s getting from this,” Dave laughs, “I’ll be honest, at first, I thought it was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced, and now I actually really like it…I cannot! No, my spleen!”

 

 

 

Feature image by Helen E., courtesy of Glass Animals: Live In The Internet, courtesy of Republic Records

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Helen Ehrlich is a writer who enjoys politics, music, all things literary, activism and charity work. She lives in the United States, where she attends school. Email her at: wyohelen@gmail.com

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