by Dylan Wallace
Breakout indie-rock band Glass Animals sold out a double-header at the Brooklyn Mirage in celebration of the second anniversary of their third studio album Dreamland. The band seemed to be untouchable since the album’s release in 2020 with their first GRAMMY nomination for Best New Artist and becoming the first British group to keep their number one place on the Hot 100 for multiple weeks since Spice Girls’ Wannabe in 1997. The track that thrust them into this newfound spotlight, Heat Waves, is currently closing in on 2 billion streams through Spotify alone.
After their first night in New York on August 8th, lead singer, Dave Bayley, regarded the night as one of his favorite shows he’d ever performed. With expectations high for their second performance, the band along with the crowd certainly delivered. Over the course of the concert, Bayley took a moment to talk to the crowd, saying, “Yesterday’s show was good, but tonight, tonight takes the biscuit.”
Bayley had a special experience planned for the birthday of their album that began at the door of the venue. He had planned to execute this experience at the start of the tour, but with COVID complicating his vision, Bayley told the crowd he’s very happy to have ended with the elaborate celebration. Fans entered a hazy hallway to walls of LED screens featuring the four heads of the band’s members alongside iconic imagery from the album and neon signs from the tour’s set design. For those who wanted to kill time before the show began, Xbox sponsored a living room themed space where fans could play the newest Pac-Man game while procrastinating stepping into the almost 100-degree weather outside.
Once concert goers did venture out, they were greeted with a mammoth television set surrounded by the Brooklyn Mirage’s astounding 200-foot video wall featuring over 1000 LED panels which would be utilized to fully immerse the crowd into the world that Glass Animals had created for them.
They’d first be dragged into this world by the band playing the opening verse of the title track of the album in celebration, Dreamland, before leading into a smash hit from their sophomore album, How To Be A Human Being, called Life Itself. In just a song and a half, the crowd was electric, causing Bayley and the band to take a moment to absorb their screams and energy, before returning it back to them with one of my personal favorites from their latest work, Tangerine. The four would then venture to their first album, ZABA, for Black Mambo before fading into their most recent once more with Hot Sugar.
Between songs Bayley takes time to introduce each member of the band, beginning with Ed Irwin-Singer, followed by Drew MacFarlane, and finally Joe Seaward. Standard for any show, however, before Bayley could announce Seaward’s name, the crowd began to chant it in his place. To a casual listener of Glass Animals, it may seem like the audience just loves their drummer, but there’s a bit more to it. Joe Seaward had his name chanted by the crowd because he was the inspiration for Dreamland, and the audience was proud.
In early 2018, Seaward was involved in a life-threatening bicycle accident that left him with a severely broken leg and fractured skull. Seaward was forced to start over, and re-learn how to walk, talk, read, and of course, play the drums.
With such an uncertain and terrifying future ahead, Bayley also had to start over by tracing back in his memories to his childhood in Texas. He explored friends from grade school who went on to make dangerous decisions in Space Ghost Coast to Coast, or how as a child he witnessed an abusive relationship between a friend’s parents in Domestic Bliss. The listener grows with Bayley through adolescence in tracks such as Hot Sugar and Waterfalls Coming Out Your Mouth while also graduating to adulthood with Heat Waves and It’s All So Incredibly Loud.
Each track is layered with memories all inspired by the uncertain future of a best friend in critical condition, but Seaward prevailed. The crowd’s cheers were for more than their favorite drummer, they were for someone they truly admired; and that admiration could be felt throughout the venue. Bayley even turned the mic onto the crowd, so Seaward’s name could echo through the venue twice as loud.
The two-night takeover concluded with emotions on high. Bayley spoke to the crowd explaining just how special these last two shows have been. “These will be our last shows in America for a good while…we can’t tell you just how long.” Met with playful boos from the crowd he returned with, “C’mon guys we’ve gotta make more music eventually!” The band took a moment to thank their crew, manager, label, and the audience before Bayley would mention how emotional he truly was, marking these shows as, “the end of an era” for the band.
After closing out their show with what is arguably the band’s most iconic song, Pork Soda, Glass Animals would leave the stage. Their absence would last only a moment before the crowd’s chants would bring them back for Tokyo Drifting and Heat Waves before the four would stand together in each other’s arms to a crowd who had been successfully immersed into their world for upwards of four hours.
Glass Animals will return to London to play a more intimate celebration of Dreamland before going on to play festivals in Spain and Germany.