Panda Bear & Sonic Boom, Live at The Brudenell

Date & Time

Sat Apr 22 2023 at 07:30 pm


Brudenell Social Club | Leeds, EN

Panda Bear & Sonic Boom, Live at The Brudenell


Brudenell Presents...
Panda Bear & Sonic Boom
+ Mary Lattimore
22.04.2023 | £19.00 Adv. | 19:30 Doors
You can thank the ever-arduous process of moving vinyl records for Reset, the ebullient full-length debut from longtime pals and collaborators Panda Bear and Sonic Boom. Six years ago now, Sonic Boom left his home in England for Portugal, at least in part to be closer to Panda Bear. The unlikely pair met via MySpace nearly a decade before, when Panda Bear thanked Sonic Boom’s former band, Spacemen 3, in the liner notes for his solo classic, Person Pitch, prompting Sonic Boom to message him with gratitude of his own.
They forged an enduring partnership, with Sonic Boom mixing and co-producing a spate of Panda Bear releases since 2011’s Tomboy; they worked especially closely on 2015’s Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. But when Sonic Boom pitched an idea to take their working relationship to the next level, he reckoned Panda Bear might reject the proposition outright—in the nine gloriously, feverishly hook-bound tracks of Reset, though, you can hear exactly how much he loved the prospect.
Sonic Boom’s notion was simple enough: After lugging his records to Portugal, he slapped them on a turntable in a fresh space, renewing his fascination with old favorites he had not heard in years. There was the great early rock singer Eddie Cochran, for instance, or the stunning American harmonizers of The Everly Brothers. Something new struck him, too—the way the ornate intros to many of these standards felt largely like stage curtains, compelling in their own right even if they had very little to do with the hits that followed. Sonic Boom began crafting song-length loops from these preambles, twisting and bending the parts like scrap metal into chimeras.
But would Panda Bear, who had used pop music ephemera to make his own gems even before famously doing so on Person Pitch, be interested into turning them into proper tunes? When Sonic Boom’s version of Cochran’s “Three Steps to Heaven” arrived, with its huge acoustic strums looped like a roller-coaster, Panda Bear knew what to play and sing so instantaneously that the result, “Getting to the Point,” is Reset’s rightful sugar-rush opener. “Like a Coca-Cola in the system,” Panda Bear begins above that magnetic loop, “I’m letting it engineer the atmosphere.” The rest of Reset—40 minutes of strange light, fluorescing out from a particularly dark time—sparkles with the same energy.
The kernel of Reset emerged not long after international lockdowns began, so the chance to work together on these songs offered the medicine of communion amid isolation, plus a place to funnel the blues of the present and sublimate them into something else for future use. Built on the vivid handclaps and harmonies of Randy & the Rainbows’ 1963 doo-wop staple “Denise,” the irrepressible “Edge of the Edge” wrestles with the reality of what happens when our accomplishments backfire, or when “strange fruit/has a hidden rot.” As catchy and bright as anything either Panda Bear or Sonic Boom have made in their own vaunted careers, it provides a way to process current troubles and keep going.
And there’s “Danger,” where a loping loop of The Everly Brothers’ “Love of My Life” serves as a springboard for bouncing out of the doldrums, even depression. “I got to get back to that harmony,” Panda Bear sings, his voice playfully finding the high harmony for that last word. It lands like a rainbow, slicing through oppressive clouds to offer a wink of respite.
But even to Sonic Boom’s surprise, it’s not just Panda Bear singing here. Encouraged not only by their own camaraderie but also the way Deakin has started leading more songs in Animal Collective, Panda Bear pushed Sonic Boom to sing, too. He offers the cheeky mantra “give it to me” during the kaleidoscopic “Go On” and wonderfully warped support during the hypnotic “Whirlpool.” Above playful slide whistles and sequencers, Sonic Boom handles the verses of “Everyday” himself, his winsome monotone suddenly dancing across the syllables like a yo-yo.
This delightful turn as a lead singer is a testament to the power of communion and collaboration, of inspiring one another to do more. Reset is full of those moments, especially through the easter eggs of nuanced production that become clear when these triumphant, sing-out-loud anthems are heard on headphones. You track Panda Bear and Sonic Boom slowing down, digging in, finding an even deeper rapport as musicians and people in real time.
“Times are tough/and the draw is raw” goes just one of the several hooks that frame “Everything’s Been Leading to This,” the fireworks finale of Reset and yet another song that feels like a new benchmark for both Panda Bear and Sonic Boom. During the second verse, they sing those lines back and forth, like friends sharing a hug or any other sort of reassurance during some awful stretch.
That was, after all, one premise of Reset, and it is now perhaps its primary promise—to reckon with the not-infrequent hardships of reality and offer some way to some other side. If making Reset supplied temporary medicine for Panda Bear and Sonic Boom, it is now permanently so for the rest of us, a reminder that sometimes playing and singing along to old favorites with friends can be enough to make the world feel a bit better.

Event Location

Brudenell Social Club, 33 Queens Road, Leeds, United Kingdom

Event Host

Brudenell Social Club
Brudenell Social Club

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