Animal Collective's Avey Tare brings solo show to Eagle Rock
United they are strong, but there’s no denying that the members of Animal Collective can be just as formidable when they break away from the pack. Such is the case with Avey Tare, one-fourth of the snarling tribe of Maryland-born indie beatsmiths. With the alligator as his spirit animal, it’s no surprise that listening to his atmospheric solo tracks is like to diving headfirst into a swamp carpeted with algae and wet leaves.
Born David Portner, the artist will unpack his swath of hypnotic beats and psychedelic murkiness at the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts on Friday during the West Coast leg of his solo tour. For fans of his 2010 solo record “Down There,” the shows have been a long time coming, considering that Portner abstained from touring when the record debuted.
“At the time the record came out, I was kinda uncertain about how I was going to do it; I was a little more enthusiastic about trying to do it with the band,” Portner said. “Once the record came out, Animal Collective started getting really busy, which is fine, but I really didn’t have time to put stuff together then. So I wound up putting the tour off.”
In the past, Portner has also identified the personal trauma that inspired the songs on “Down There” as an emotional anchor that kept him from performing them live. The death of his grandmother, his sister Heather’s unexpected bout with cancer and a divorce from Kría Brekkan in the span of a year weighed heavily in songs spiked with painful lyrical allegories. Though it’s been more than a year since “Down There” was released, Portner says songs like “Ghost of Books” — with lyrics referring to his divorce — are still a little tough to get through.
“There’s still very much an emotional connection to them, but the context of the set also feels a little bit different to me, but in a way that makes me feel a little more comfortable about playing them,” Portner said.
Now that Animal Collective has announced its return to the studio in January to record a follow-up to 2009’s "Merriweather Post Pavillion," Portner’s stint of solo outings came at just the right time. Aside from being its first record in two years, its forthcoming record marks the return of Josh “Deakin” Dibb, who bowed out of the group in 2006.
Relocating from New York to Maryland this year, Portner said he and Dibb reunited with bandmates Noah Lennox (“Panda Bear”) and Brian Weitz (“Geologist”) to work on new songs for their 11th album. They spent a couple of weeks in November writing new tracks.
“It’s been a process for us this year to take time to write and make sure that we felt good about this new round of songs, especially playing with Josh again after not having done that for a while,” Portner said. “But it’s always been on our mind. We just hadn’t made any concrete plans to push forward until recently.”
As far as his 11-date solo tour that ends in Oakland on Dec. 11, Portner said that the ability to take a brief detour from Animal Collective has been great, but he also knows how ferocious his contributions can be when paired with his bandmates.
“I hadn’t really had any huge plans to do anything on my own at this point. I spent so much energy into the group, that I’m kind of accustomed to that,” Portner said. “I just do it when it feels right.”
Avey Tare performs with special guest at Eagle Rock Center for the Arts, 2225 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 226-1617. 8 p.m. Friday. $15 (sold out). All ages.
-- Nate Jackson
Photo: Avey Tare. Credit: Josh Dibb