Dreamland, the title of both the Glass Animals’ hit album and current North American tour, was an apt description of the state their October 27 performance induced in the capacity crowd at the Santa Barbara Bowl. From the front row of the pit to the deepest corners of the bleacher seats, people were euphoric. After nearly two years of limited access to this kind of collective effervescence, they were ready to pop, and off they went. Animals frontman Dave Bayley danced in circles, waved his arms in the air, and delivered his mesmerizing songs in a wailing soul falsetto, all to the impeccably timed playing of a tight, tour-tested band. Seventeen songs in total, 10 from Dreamland, five from How to Be a Human Being, and two from their 2014 debut, Zaba, added up to a little over 90 minutes of sheer musical bliss.
Glass Animals have mastered the art of the stadium mix. Bass guitarist Ed Irwin-Singer laid down groove after groove with the kind of inescapable body-rocking intensity more commonly found on the dance floor at an elite after-hours club. With its clever swimming pool concept and entertaining vintage Windows graphics, the brilliant set gave Bayley the perfect playground for keeping the energy flowing all night long. Although he never dove off the diving board attached to the edge of the stage, his guitar solos had the hectic amperage of crowd surfing.
While hits such as “Dreamland” and “Heat Waves” certainly delivered, deep cuts such as “Your Love (Déjà Vu)” were just as powerful, conjuring an ‘80s vibe that had everyone on their feet and moving. As of tonight, Thursday, October 28, there’s one more chance to catch this hottest of live acts at the Santa Barbara Bowl, an ideal venue for their take on danceable rock circa 2021.