WHO: Animals as Leaders

WHERE: Key Club

WHEN: 7/10/11

Technical wizards Animals As Leaders have quickly grown in popularity. They headlined a sold-out show Sunday night at The Key Club while Joe Satriani and Steve Vai played just down the street. This is impressive, even for particularly powerful wizards.

Before the show, Animals As Leaders did a free meet and greet with fans. You know, those things you usually pay out the ass for. Not only that, they played material from the new record, too. Prosthetic Records will surely be marking this new album as a high point in their history. From what we heard it's distinctly Animals As Leaders, maintaining the clean and, we'll go ahead and say it, graceful sound of the first album, but with the heavy turned up to a new level.

For those who did not arrive early for the meet and greet, all hope of new material was not lost. They played one new song, the name of which remains a mystery to us–but if you know, speak up!

Javier Reyes and Navene Koperweis of Animals As Leaders; Credit: Diamond Bodine-Fischer

Javier Reyes and Navene Koperweis of Animals As Leaders; Credit: Diamond Bodine-Fischer

After L.A.'s progy (with sludgy seasonings) Intronaut left the stage a horrible smell filled the room. It wasn't long before the cause was discovered–somebody's hair was on fire. Totally metal.

Animals As Leaders set was sparse, two screens with ambient swirling and changing shapes and some simple lighting. Perhaps that's all you need when you play like a machine.

They played for only about 40 minutes because of delays throughout the show that pushed their start time back. They stopped to speak only twice, both times to quickly thank the fans.

Tosin Abasi and Javier Reyes played their eight string guitars with such ease, one would think perhaps they were wielding beginners' instruments. Navene Koperweis ran over his substantial, but not obscenely oversized, drum set with machine-like precision without furrowing a brow.

The three musicians went through their set transitioning from technical metal, to a march-inducing steady chug, to pure jazz, to ambient, all so naturally it seemed to be child's play to them.

These are the kind of players that make you realize how mediocre a player you are, and you're fine with it. It's like realizing how small you are in the universe, simultaneously belittling and beautiful.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.