My friend Shawn and I had very clashing musical tastes in high school, and I typically (read: always) wrote off his artist suggestions before even entertaining them. One day 7 or 8 years ago, he told me to check out this band called Animals In Human Attire and handed me their demo CD with their acronym sloppily scrawled on it in permanent marker. I looked at him over my glasses and asked him what made him think I would have any interest in this series of tracks. He told me to trust him, and thankfully I did. He had just introduced me to one of my new favorite bands.
For many years, Animals In Human Attire have been a fixture in Milwaukee and elsewhere. Creating a sound blending elements of pop-rock, folk, and jam bands, this 6-piece outfit, consisting of Jack Tell, Myles Coyne, Alex Klosterman, Nathan Toth, Charlie Celenza, and Justin Miller, has left its mark on the Wisconsin music scene. You would be hard pressed to find a musician in Milwaukee who hasn’t heard of them. Unfortunately, May 9th marked their last performance for the foreseeable future.
They selected to hold their hiatus bash at Yield, with an opening performance from Mortgage Freeman. Leading up to the possible-final performance, a few of the band members confessed their level of intoxication to me (as evidenced in the picture below). Was this apparent in their performance? Yes. Were they a little sloppy? I suppose. Did it detract from the show? Not even a little bit.
Animals kicked off their set with their sing-along single “South Pole Mountain Song.” The band barely stopped to breathe as they cruised through most of the tracks from the most recent release Ourmegadawn.
It is obvious when observing them perform that they are masters of their craft and very comfortable playing with each other. When you stack Tell’s clever songwriting, Coyne’s playful bass lines, Klosterman’s melodic guitar solos, Toth’s tasteful keyboard-synth additions, Celenza’s unmatched drumming ability, and Miller’s unique buckets-and-tubs auxiliary percussion, you get a chaotically organized-mess that keeps you wanting more. Rounding out the night with an instrumental rendition of “Double Rainbow,” my heart felt a little heavy knowing I wouldn’t be able to witness this collection of musicians perform together again (at least, for a while).
While Animals won’t be playing anytime soon, their individual members will be. Celenza continues to drum with Klosterman in jammy/improv-rock Conundrum, as well as with indie goofballs Soul Low. Toth is reportedly trying out other groups while recording out of his home. The ever-ambitious Coyne is growing his own solo project, drumming with chill alt-folk Ladders, and releasing tapes through his label, Breadking. Equally busy, Tell started pursuing his bachelor’s degree in guitar performance this past year. He plans to release another solo album, and has more material from his folksy, banjo-heavy project Lousy Trouts. Regarding the future of Animals, I have heard “unreleased material may resurface over the summer,” which I will be impatiently awaiting.
If you need to get your fix of Animals in Human Attire you can still head on over to their bandcamp page and social media sites to get updates on how the guys are doing, get news on those releases they still might have yet to come, and to listen to all your favorite tracks.