Sunday, November 18, 2012

Deerhoof is the perfect band

Somehow I forgot how much I love Deerhoof. I was lucky enough to catch them on their way through Houston earlier this month at the new Walter's near all the art studio/warehouses on the north end of downtown.

It was not a full house. A friend who was potentially going to come along (and did not, his foolish mistake) asked if it would sell out. I was couldn't say for sure. In retrospect, I guess Deerhoof is not exactly the kind of band that packs 'em in. Their shows are a sort of performance art, from the awesome arm-pump-leg-kick dance moves of lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki to the furious and fascinating drum explosions of Greg Saunier. What's happening on stage somehow perfectly describes the chaotic but carefully crafted soundscape that emerges from the four band members. Deerhoof is often noted for being difficult to classify or described. I find myself experiencing that difficulty this very moment...

In Houston, they dished out generous helpings of what I consider their hits from The Runners Four and Friend Opportunity, as well as some of the hottest tracks from their latest, Breakup Songs. For me it was just one euphoric explosion after another, experienced in the tight three-minute pop-song format that they have upended, reassembled and reinvented into something wholly unique. There is no one else like them.

Pre-show, my wife and I were lingering around the merch table when Satomi casually seated herself and remarked on my wife's shirt. We realized who she was and couldn't help but relay to her that we had seen them twice in Vancouver, six years ago, with the first show being the first concert we had ever attended together. She seemed pleased to hear it. On the table were the usual vinyl recordings and T-shirts, but also something that is truly a blast from the past - a cassette tape containing the band's latest album, for $6. If you buy the tape you also get the mp3s, so it's actually a better deal than iTunes, plus you get a hardcopy. We were swayed.

Leave it to Deerhoof to take an idea that seems abrasive and turn it into something that's just perfect.

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