As far as live performances go, Deerhoof certainly know how to perform. The four-piece played last night at the Keystone Festival Bar as part of the Sydney Festival. I’ve never had so much fun watching a band play before. I was especially grateful for the experience as I missed them play in 2010 at another festival, so with a pocketful of expectation I went last night, and I was not disappointed.
Deerhoof are clearly a band who know how to have fun and despite being together (with various different line-ups) for nearly twenty years, it’s clear these people love what they do. Their bizarre, cacophonous blend of improvisation, provided by the thrashing guitars and drums contrasted with singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s childlike and sweet vocals, brews up music that intrigues and enraptures. Their performances are a sight to behold.
Kooky could be one word used to describe last night’s performance, as could the word brilliant. Building up the crowd last night, each band member came out one by one, slowly building up into a feverish display, which unfortunately culminated in a technical hitch. However, I think hardly anyone would have noticed if it had not been for the sound guy fiddling with the power supplies! Star jumps, coordinated dancing, instrument swapping, broken guitar strings along with the high energy and experimental performance where it seemed they played one long song, Deerhoof really pulled it out of the bag. What I noticed was how happy they were, no moody musicians here! Their positive energy and big smiley faces were a nice contrast against the foreboding backdrop of the Hyde Park Barracks, where the Keystone Festival Bar takes up residence during the festival.
And the crowd was receptive. At what seemed full capacity there was a mixture of, what you can assume, long term fans (they were middle aged OK!) and new fans, or even those discovering Deerhoof for the very first time. Whoever they were, everyone was having fun ( I could tell by the big smiles slapped across everyone’s faces). I think I was behind and next to two women who were really having a blast (I could tell by their ridiculous dancing). Deerhoof played a gig that you would kind of hope would never end.
But it did end.
And as they came on to perform an encore, they were not allowed as they had to make way for DJ Yamantaka Eye from Japanese experimental outfit, Boredoms. That kind of wiped the smiles off everybody’s faces. DJ Yamantaka Eye, however, quickly replaced those smiles by playing a ninety-minute set, which was slow building and unpredictable but full of energy. It was the only DJ set I could think of that could follow on from such a high-intensity and attention-demanding band such as Deerhoof and not have the crowds leaving for the exit.