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Posts Tagged ‘Deerhoof’

(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

Deerhoof makes a ruckus. There is no denying it. If you forgo earplugs (which, come on, you should) it’s inevitable that your ears will start ringing a few songs into their show. On his lonesome, drummer Greg Saunier’s snare hits strike the deepest parts of the inner ear. But together with singer and bassist Satomi Matsuzaki, guitarist John Dieterich and guitarist Ed Rodriguez, the group creates a Street Fighter sonic boom—a full-on assault on the senses. And the energy behind their play is a double-shot espresso on a Monday night: a highly caffeinated treat with enough punch to power you through the week. If they don’t raise your heart rate, you should be checked to see if you have a pulse.

It is New York City’s luck that Deerhoof chose us for the start of their tour behind new album Breakup Song (which is kind of like if Elliott Smith had put out an LP called Fight for Your Right to Party). In one of Saunier’s moments of quirky stage banter, in which he knelt down to speak into Matsuzaki’s microphone, about two feet shorter than him, he mentioned the band’s love for playing here. And if the set list and two encores were any indication, New York City and Deerhoof have a symbiotic relationship: They give heaping spoonfuls of the favorites and we lose our shit.

For the final song, “Basketball Ball Get Your Groove Back,” Matsuzaki jumped, danced and, as much as she could, strutted around the stage, pointing the microphone toward the front row to respond with “OK!” in the chorus. The tune, like the band, is an odd pairing: a tiny Japanese woman doing bunny kicks while evoking a game for strong composed athletes. But Deerhoof is not about deep analysis or symbolic continuity. No, Deerhoof is the sound of a thousand people jumping in the air and shouting for joy. It is a noisy, life-affirming triumph.

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(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

1. Jeff Mangum, Town Hall, October 29
I never imagined I’d get to see Jeff Mangum in concert. Neutral Milk Hotel, his iconic pysch-folk band, shut it down years ago and he disappeared with them. But this year, Mangum performed a few shows across the country and his Town Hall date was my favorite show of 2011. From the boisterous sing-along of “The King of Carrot Flowers”to the reverent silence that followed each song, it was both memorable and chilling.

2. Sharon Van Etten, Music Hall of Williamsburg, April 16
It was a rainy April night and I had little motivation to trek to Williamsburg. Luckily, I sucked it up and went. Sharon Van Etten stunned me like few other performers have this year. Her melancholy love songs, devastatingly beautiful, permanently impacted the audience. Or, at least this humble observer.

3. Deerhoof, Music Hall of Williamsburg, September 20
Deerhoof left me speechless. I struggled to write my review, because, hours afterward, adrenaline still coursed through my veins. Greg Saunier, the band’s drummer and founder, is a show within a show. His dynamic logic-defying drum play is easily worth the price of admission. I’m still trying to twist my mind around this concert.

4. Flying Lotus, The Bowery Ballroom, June 20
This year I was most excited to see Brainfeeder’s showcase at the Bowery Ballroom. The label, started by innovative producer Flying Lotus, houses some of my favorite artists, including TeebsThundercat and Flying Lotus himself. For his set, Flying Lotus was accompanied by Thundercat, the bass phenom whose 2011 album, The Golden Age of Apocalypse, is one not to sleep on, and jazz-keyboard prodigy Austin Peralta. The whole night was a pleasure and I look forward to Brainfeeder’s output in 2012.

5. Levon Helm Band, SummerStage, July 18
In the pouring rain, I sang “The Weight” with Levon Helm. How can you top that?

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(Editor’s Note: This piece appears on The Bowery Presents The House List. Check it out here)

To see Deerhoof live is to experience the effects of a roller coaster. Their songs propel forward, turn back and mercilessly pound against time signatures. A musical moment lingers and another speeds away. Guitar lines wind and bass notes rise while the drums keep you fastened to the beat. And, like the most adrenaline-inducing rides, there is the fear of things falling apart; a trick manufactured by the clever designers. They’re aware of the human desire for safety, but deny the impulse, building and resolving tension in a careful balancing act. It’s dizzying in one sense, thrilling in another.

But sometimes roller coasters malfunction, and Tuesday night’s concert shared this likeness too. During one song, guitarist Ed Rodriguez’s high E string snapped. Greg Saunier, the drummer and founder of Deerhoof, appeared to have multiple instrumental difficulties. And, while lesser bands would let these snafus affect their performance, Deerhoof barely missed a beat. As Rodriguez replaced his string, Saunier ad-libbed a hilariously disjointed story to stall. His sense of humor and logic defying drum play stood out as the most impressive characteristics of the night. But, like a roller coaster, individual moments stand out less than the ride’s unforgettable excitement, and over a full set and two encores, Deerhoof created an extraordinary ride.

Additional pictures I took from the show after the jump: (more…)

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Hey Playtonics,

Here is Part 2/ Sunday of my epic mini-series, I Want My ATP (check out I Want My ATP (Part 1:) Saturday at All Tomorrow’s Parties):

Sunday

1:30 AM

 

Music festivals are wonderful, unpredictable, and tiresome. After seeing Atlas Sound, I went with the family to a local Catskills institution, an Italian restaurant called Frankie and Johnny’s. If the portions weren’t enough of a thrill, on the way out of the restaurant I saw Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips. I yelled out “Hey Wayne!” and in response he flashed me a smile and a peace sign. Wayne is an omnipresent figure at ATP this weekend. Earlier I saw him checking out the beginning of Atlas Sound’s set. Now, I’m waving to him at Frankie and Johnny’s. Wonderful and unpredictable. (more…)

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