Glass Animals is one of the most trending bands in the world currently. In 2021, the group was nominated for two American Music Awards: “Favorite Pop Duo or Group” and “Favorite Rock Artist” as well as their first ever Grammy. With the success of their hit song “Heatwaves’” (read a full Affinity review of the track here), the already critically acclaimed band has skyrocketed to certifiable superstardom.
In October of 2020, Glass Animals held a “Live In The Internet: Streamland” show (read a full Affinity review of the show here). Now, they’re back on the road and performing in person. Their new tour fittingly matched the new energy from the mainstream fame brought to their fanbase, with brilliant lights, jumping performances and intricate setwork.
Philadelphia’s show had fans cheering when the band members brought pineapples on stage, a sign of the band’s old jokes and traditions still remaining through their new international success. The crowd featured a mix of older millennials chattering about previous shows and young teenagers who were excited to witness them live for the first time. It exemplified the shift the band’s popularity has undergone in the last year. Although the show was delayed and fans were rerouted away from the stage in the face of rain, spirits remained high and only added to the anticipation.
The opener BLACKSTARKIDS kicked off the night. The five-piece outfit on stage was led by the band members: Deiondre, The Babe Gabe and TyFaizon. The artists hail from a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri and are signed to the English label Dirty Hit. They have a playful sound and presence on stage, even for the second show ever on tour with Glass Animals (they were fresh off their tour with Grouplove). They called, “Tonight, for this song, show appreciation to the friend you came with…because this song is all about friendship!”
Their songs had deep voices blending with the higher pitches from The Babe Gabe. The group mixed joyful tracks and more sentimental sounds. Their music featured quintessential indie sounds blended with pretty girl rap and rock elements. The set included songs like “Let’s Run Away,” “Frankie Muniz,” “Fight Club,” “LOVE, STARGIRL,” “ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS” and “FRIENDSHIP.” BLACKSTARKIDS’ bright colors and unique sound were appropriately paired with Glass Animals (both bands even have a song featuring “Tangerine” in the title). Their excitement to be on stage was nearly tangible and was certainly indicative of their promising future on the road.
They faced sound issues, but their music and high energy had the audience siding with them immediately, calling for louder mics and jumping along to what they could hear. They were immediately comfortable with crowd work, even filming a video and asking the audience, “When I say ‘ayo,’ can you say ‘ayo’?” The group got the mood to an even more positive place and indicated their own likely success on stage in the coming years.
The band’s sets were there to create an immersive experience. It featured a basketball hoop, a diving board and a small dip in the stage that created a pool bedecked with white tiling. Frontman Dave Bayley emerged on stage, and the crowd went wild. He had donned a vintage Jay Wells Flyers jersey from the late 1980s. He explained to the Philadelphian crowd, “I chose it especially for you guys.”
They opened with “Dreamland,” aptly inviting the fans into the world they had created with their album and subsequent surrounding visual projects. They moved through “Life Itself,” “Tangerine,” “Hot Sugar,” “The Other Side of Paradise” and “Hazey.”
Dave was expertly playing and reading the audience. Every light beam, prop, swing of the arms is deliberate and integral in creating an intricate production for fans. He stands, bobbing on the diving board, establishing a sense of drama and feeding off the crowd. The percussion, courtesy of Joe Seaward, literally rocked the audience. The visuals and the music produced deep blues and swirling turquoise as the lights moved in tandem. The energy was high in the crowd and on-stage as Edmund Irwin-Singer darted between keys and guitar. On “Space Ghost Coast to Coast,” Dave lifted his hand during the bass drop to toy with the audience, teasing out the pregnant pause between the segments of the song.
Pointing into the crowd Dave called, “You made that sign! You made a lot of signs. We’ll play both of those songs, don’t you worry.” They moved into “Cane Shuga,” a classic favorite of the older fans. They did “Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth” and Dave shared that “it’s the first time we’ve ever played that one.” While they played guitar and danced about to “Gooey,” background footage on the screens continued the narrative line they established throughout the album. There were pulsing beats that were matched by the bright lights. The crowd ironically called, “I just wanna go where I can get some space,” as they clamored to get closer to him, and subsequently each other.
Standing in the audience, staring up at Dave who was flying around the stage like his body was full of the lights surrounding him, you can tell this is what he lives to do. The performance was fluid as his dancing and energy evolved and shifted throughout the set.
This wasn’t just a show for fans of electronic music, as there were even more rock-leaning licks on the electric guitar and piano solos. The instrumental breaks were a testament to Drew MacFarlane’s abilities as a musician and live performer. Drew even appeared to be having a fun time, getting closer to the crowd and hopping around (though not venturing on the board). The crowd shrieked and was energized by his more quiet performing style.
As they moved into “Youth,” the stage’s color scape shifted into royal blues with hissing fog and trilling introduction music. There were collages and a sea of home movie footage on the screens at various points throughout the night. Roadies were running in and out to grab guitars like it was a play, their responsibility to keep the space clear for the band members to move and keep the set’s design clean.
Dave lifted a pineapple triumphantly above his head and declared into the mic, “I’m legally not allowed to throw the pineapple into the crowd anymore. I apologize, I was told it’s a very stupid thing to do.” The crowd jeers and implores in the clapping leading up to “Pork Soda.” Dating back to 2017, pineapples were controversial. Glass Animals’ fans were banned from bringing pineapples to the Reading and Leeds Festivals. Pineapples had become a symbol for the band, due to the song “Pork Soda”’s lyric “pineapples are in my head.” Bright flashes punctuate dramatic song choices as they perform to the engrossed crowd.
Dave stepped up to the mic, talking about the rain. He teased that they, “had to give you an authentic English festival experience.” He did crowd work, peering into the excited cluster of fans at the barricade, calling, “love your hair” to a fan. One of the most beautiful songs of the night was “It’s all so incredibly loud.” The dramatic performance was nearly orchestral as beams of light meshed together on the screen behind the band. The energy built and the audience was going wild. They moved into fan favorite, “Your Love (Déjà Vu)” and wrapped with “Take A Slice.”
“Philadelphia, you were bloody amazing!” Dave cried before leaving the stage. Roadies came in to remove mic stands and pick up equipment. Then, the large screen behind them began to read: “THIS WILL INSTALL GLASS ANIMALS ENCORE PACK 2.0…DO YOU WISH TO INSTALL?” There were high-pitched vocals and red static and light flashing. The band came running back out, calling, “Can we do a couple more?!”
It was time for “Tokyo Drifting,” and Dave was gleefully toying with fans again, perching himself on the edge of the diving board and smirking at fans. He crouched down and rose back up as he sang, “Wavey Davey’s on fire, he’s still got it Wavey Davey’s on fire/You still got it, you still got it alright, yeah/Wavey Davey’s on fire/Oh, you still got it, you still got it alright, yeah!”
In the absence of Denzel Curry (though he had performed it at Firefly Festival with them a few days prior outside of Philly in Delaware), they did a series of electronic beats. Dave danced around more and hung on Drew, which was commonly seen through the night when they weren’t facing off with each other on their guitars.
Glass Animals saved two of their largest hits for the end. “Heat Waves” was one of the biggest songs of 2021, as their label stated, “‘Heat Waves’ global success means that Glass Animals have produced the biggest new single export from the UK this year. The British group is only behind heritage acts Fleetwood Mac with ‘Dreams’ and Queen with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for biggest song of the year from a group.” Due to this blatant popularity, Dave was laughing before starting, joking, “This one’s called ‘Heat Waves.’”
To conclude the night, Dave offered, “How ‘bout a new one?” as they began “I Don’t Wanna Talk (I Just Wanna Dance).” The screen was filled with cherries falling up and down, mirroring each other. It also featured ‘70s style ribbon stripes running across the screen, which fit the aesthetic and imagery of the new track. Throughout the night, each song created a cohesive design, but matched the videos and individual artistic directions of each track.
The concert worked to establish its own style while also fitting into the universe they’ve been creating with their Dreamland album. With the intricacies in design, the high energy and the continuation of the storyline, Glass Animals’ Dreamland performance is one of the best live shows I’ve seen. Dave cried out to the waving audience, a joke he had established with the crowd throughout the show by pointing out how interesting it looked from upon the stage, “Philly…my goodness, you guys have been f**king incredible thank you.” The group ran off while a pixel-convertible on the screen with a license plate reading “DREAMLAND” drove away. It was time to leave Dreamland.
Feature image by Helen Ehrlich, press pass courtesy of Republic Records.