Back to Rockville

Glass Animals stir a sold-out crowd at the Midland

Dave Bayley and the Glass Animals performed Thursday at the Midland theater.
Dave Bayley and the Glass Animals performed Thursday at the Midland theater. Special to the Star

Popularity has come swiftly to Glass Animals.

The quartet from Oxford, England, released its debut album, “Zaba,” in June 2014, about a month before they filled the now-defunct Czar Bar, drawing a crowd of about 100. A year later, they are selling out large venues like the Midland theater, where they drew a sold-out crowd of more than 3,000 on Thursday night.

Glass Animals’ music is a blend of electronic synth-pop, soul and R&B, as catchy and groovy as it is innocuous. They shift moods subtly, from the trippy, noir-ish soul of “Psylla” to the straightforward R&B of “Black Mamba” to the tropical vibe of “Pools” and the electro-soul groove of “Flip.” It’s all accessible and familiar, a hash of inspirations and influences.

Live, Glass Animals sound more organic and less clinical than they do throughout the polished and somewhat clinical “Zaba.” Energetic lead singer Dave Bayley has an appealing but generic Brit-pop voice that suits the music that surrounds it. His lyrics weren’t often discernible, submerged in the waves of guitars and synths, but that’s not necessarily a detriment when you’re singing cryptic lines like “Tickle head gin can take your throne / Pump your veins with gushing gnomes.” He displayed a firm falsetto a few times, most convincingly on “Hazey,” a warm gust of Brit-pop and soul.

The stage presentation, a mix of lights, fog and shadows, embellished the music’s chilled ambiance. There was plenty of dancing and movement throughout the show, on stage and in the crowd, and occasional outbursts of singing along, especially during “Gooey” and “Cocoa Hooves.”

There was also plenty of conversations going on. Chalk that up to the lack of extreme mood swings. After about 45 minutes, a light pall of redundancy had settled in. As deft as they are in setting their songs to different rhythms and grooves, it all sounds harvested from the same tree.

Because they have only one full-length album in their arsenal, Glass Animals resorted to filling their 70-minute set list with two covers: the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Gold Lime” and Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown,” one of two encores, which imparted a refreshing funk/hip-hop vibe.

The large crowd gave the band a rousing send-off, for which they appeared to be genuinely grateful. When Bayley said it was the best crowd of the tour so far, it sounded like he meant it. He said the band has another album in the works, which is good news for everyone. A band whose popularity has risen this swiftly could use the material to fill a set that lasts longer than an hour and change.

Timothy Finn: 816-234-4781, @phinnagain


Walla Walla; Intruxx; Hazey; Psylla; Exxus; Gooey; Flip; Black Mambo; Gold Lime; Cocoa Hooves; Toes; Wyrd. Encore: Love Lockdown; Pools.