Before we begin, let me say, as opposed to Mikey, I am a huge Deerhunter fan. I went to see them play with the expectation of a hypnotic, life-changing religious experience. Sadly I didn’t get that. Instead I got to see a supremely tight band deliver a solid set of pop-infused shogaze. Twice. Poor me.
Deerhunter know what they’re doing live, at both Manning Bar and The Annandale their sound was excellent. Each gig saw them feature lots of material from their past two albums, as well as some older numbers and a couple of tunes from their latest EP, Rainwater Cassette Exchange.
Launching into their upbeat numbers the band never lets up, Nothing Ever Happened and Hazel St are powered through with live twists that make them even more glorious than their recorded versions, the former receiving extended jamming and the latter packing a lot more punch due to some heavier bass and a faster tempo.
Watching the band play makes me appreciate their craft so much more. In a live setting you can start to differentiate what each member is doing in the swirl of noise and reverb they pump out. Josh Fauver’s bass is fantastic, he’s behind so many of the guitar parts I regularly jump around to at home. Locket Plundt and Bradford Cox on the other hand just fill the room with delicately looped guitar that seems to become a part of Bradford’s effects laden vocals.
These guys are definitely a live band, there are no set lists in site and several times through a show you see them consult on what to play next. At times Bradford Cox will ask for requests and after he rejects several songs because they don’t remember how to play them he’ll suddenly agree to a four year old song they haven’t performed in 2 years- and tear through it!
Ah Bradford… Not only is he an extremely talented musician- he’s got a lot to say too! The music at a Deerhunter show is fantastic but the most entertainment comes to you courtesy of Bradford Cox’s banter filled interludes. At Manning he asked us for requests then spent 3min trying to convince us that Operation wasn’t actually a good song. In front of the crowd at The Annandale he had accepted our desire for Operation but he did stop to tell us of an impending beatdown between US rappers Young Jeezy and Gucci, drawing a gasp and a laugh from the crowd as he starts the story with “in America, we have black people.”
Later he stopped a song because it was sounding crap, informed us it was their last song but not really because of this ‘encore’ thing. Then he asked what encore meant and what language it was from, before inquiring if there was any symbolism attached to the lavender that had been thrown on stage a moment ago. At the end of this extended talk break someone in the audience replies “it symbolises you should START THE SONG!” a frustration I think that the rest of the band must feel at times. You can just tell from the looks they give him when he’s been talking for a while.
And what were the differences in the gigs? Manning Bar featured a really strong set the band knew well, while The Annandale gave us a much more personalised experience, with Bradford chatting amicably, asking to turn the lights up to see the crowd and doing a lot more requests.
To sum up the past 550 words: totally worth your money next time they’re here.