Deer Freely Hunted
A review of last night’s FREE Deerhunter show.
By Monica the Intern
In a sonic wash of pedal pushing magic and light, Deerhunter opened Noise Pop 2009 with a performance at Mezzanine, thus kicking off this year’s festival with an orchestrated bang. Before the opening lazy strums of “Hazel St.,” front-man Bradford Cox was well aware he was smack dab in the middle of the City: “This song is for Harvey Milk – the person, not the band.” Though the clarification was merely part of Cox’s awkward charm, the song soared like a ghost rock demon, doing the slain icon proud.
After hellacious lineup changes, Cox’s distracting on-stage antics (he has been known to play in a dress while performing various sexual acts) and the band’s many challenges in its beginnings, many did not know what to expect. Cox, dressed in a non-descript t-shirt and jeans, led his four piece into an hour long set that impressed, energized and intrigued. The band’s lyrics, often ridden by isolation and depression, only feed into the feeling that they produce with their synth wave of sound. On “Never Stops” Cox’s feelings of entrapment and entropy are illustrated bluntly and beautifully: “I had dreams/That frightened me awake/I happened to escape/But my escape/Would never come.” Deerhunter also premiered new material, to which the crowd responded well. One of the most memorable songs, “Famous Last Words” rang with doo-wop bounce that was new but added even more to their lush sound.
Throughout the show, Cox refrained from talking in between songs – it seemed that music was the mission operative of their appearance. Toward the end, much of the crowd began to dance wildly to pounding drums and guitar rhythms and Cox followed suit: “I don’t know about you, but there are two things in this world that I care most about: noise and pop.”
Local openers Lilofee were energetic, but the younger and middle-aged hipster crowd seemed largely disinterested. Though they have received attention for their stage performances and their anticipated debut album, The Only Years, much of the audience was in search of libations versus front woman Kimi Recor’s sweat liberations. To give her due credit, Recor worked hard for the attention, writhing, screaming, sweating and belting out every industrial power pop song in her. Talking between each song, she tried to reach out to the crowd of hundreds but her dancing rhetoric and protocol did not wow the masses. The band’s hard industrial beats mixed with the appeal of power-pop would have been highly appealing, save for the one-woman tour-de-force that seemed to suck the interest away.
Deerhunter has been harboring attention since their release of Cryptograms in 2007. 2008’s Microcastle topped the album lists of last year, as their dreamy, shoegaze experiment began to have more focus and substance, making them indie darlings to a more-than-willing crowd. Though they have played very few shows in the Bay Area, they showed the City’s crowd one thing last night: the band has found a niche and they are here to stay.