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1/8 — Panda Bear

Music

2.25.2019

Atiba Jefferson's Last Night Was The Ultimate Animal Collective Dream Show

On February 21, photographer Atiba Jefferson threw his third Last Night event in LA. We dropped by to pay a visit to the series which started a few years back in 2017, as simply “an excuse for [Jefferson] and his brother to get [their] favorite bands to play in an intimate setting.” Now, kicking off 2019, it’s become so much more.

Jefferson’s first Last Night show started off big with multiple performances and headliners like Explosions in the Sky, Future Islands, and Animal Collective. His second show was with hardcore bands Turnstile and Quicksand. This time around, Jefferson returned to an old favorite by throwing the ultimate dream show for Animal Collective fans. The secret, free, invite-only event took place at Genghis Cohen, a charming Chinese restaurant on Fairfax Avenue in LA, with solo performances by Avey Tare and Panda Bear (both members of Animal Collective).

As you enter the restaurant there is a dining room to your left filled with big red family style booths, and to your right there is a small, unassuming music room with red lanterns hanging from the ceiling. With a crowd of only 130 people—a mix of Atiba’s friends and fans—we all gathered around Avey Tare and Panda Bear only to be serenaded by their enchanting voices and hypnotizing visuals.

We are already anxiously awaiting the next Last Night invite (if we can make the cut). In the meantime, we spoke more with Jefferson to find out how this all got started.

Why did you start Last Night?

Last Night was originally started just as an excuse for me and my brother to get our favorite bands to play in an intimate setting for us. I grew up going to punk rock shows and being in a room with only a couple of hundred people. I feel like that’s not something that happens often with these bands so I wanted to try and offer that opportunity for people in LA, for my friends and family, and for some fans.

How has Last Night evolved from your first show to now?

When we first did it with Future Islands, Animal Collective, and Explosions in the Sky… those bands can sell out the Greek Theatre and my thing was like, let’s get them in a smaller room. Of course at the time I felt like an 800 cap room would be intimate, and it was compared to what they normally play, but then I realized it wasn’t THAT different.

I’m a partner in this Chinese restaurant called Genghis Cohen which has an 80 person cap room and to me that sounds way cooler to have these bands play in a Chinese restaurant versus just playing another venue. I want this experience to be unique for the fans and people watching, as well as the band. So I decided to try to do it with the bands Turnstile and Quicksand, both being hardcore bands but one being a new school band and the other being an old school band. When I first saw Quicksand play as a kid, that was the amount of people that were at that show and to me that was really special, and I wanted to have that happen with both bands.

What have you learned from throwing these shows?

We do these shows privately so the bands don’t burn any plays in LA and that’s a really important thing. So, they are these unannounced shows and now that we’re doing them at a smaller venue it gets really tricky inviting… the whole operation… but the coolest thing about it, now that we’ve done two, is the reaction from the bands. The fans and the people who attend are always really stoked but its really cool seeing that the bands are really into playing a venue that small and that intimate on a stage that’s 1 foot high. It’s really cool.

If you could put your dream show together, artists dead or alive, what would your three acts be?

Oh man… I mean for me? Bob Marley and the Original Wailers… because then you get Peter, Bunny, and Bob. And then…. it would be Miles Davis with the 1958 group which had Coltrane and Bill Evans. And then it would be the Bad Brains.

As a photographer first and foremost, when did your photography begin to intersect with music?

They intersect because as a photographer going to show, it’s really hard for me to sit back and not want to photograph these great people. It’s all about capturing these moments that are that are being made by these amazing artists. I would also say photography plays a big role in this event and what goes on because my relationship with these people has definitely grown. Photography is an intimate thing. I have a relationship with these bands from photographing them.

Should we expect more shows to come?

Yes I hope to do this a couple of times a year. Not too much, but whenever the stars line up I will.

Images courtesy of Atiba Jefferson

Stay tuned to Milk for more west coasts happenings.

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