Saturday, July 19, 2008

Friday Night at Prospect Park: Deerhoof at Celebrate Brooklyn

We love Deerhoof and are very sentimental about this San Francisco-band since they were the first band we saw at the McCarren Park Pool the weekend after we moved back to Brooklyn in August 2006. (And ultra-talented vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki was one of our first celebrity endorsements in our campaign for Congress from Arizona.)

So are extremely grateful that last night we got to Prospect Park in time to hear the start of their amazing set. Of course, delayed by our seeing Leslie Stein at Desert Island, a recalcitrant G train, and stopping to see if we could help a teenage cyclist who crashed right in front of our eyes (he was okay but saying "fuck, it hurts" a lot after his dad managed to free his leg from under the downed bike), we did miss the Metropolis Ensemble's performance and their innovative interpretation of Stravinsky's Rites of Spring, "The Rite Remixed" -- but we didn't riot because it's available here, thanks to WNYC, the station to which our home radios are glued. (Thanks also to WNYC for the pics and video -- send them some money this minute!)

Although it was very crowded, we managed to find a seat in the back, but by the second song everyone in front had stood up and we either had to crane our necks to see the band or just listen to the great music and watch the kinetic kids in the aisle (too many of whom were smoking for our comfort).

The crowd was largely in their 20s and 30s, with some oldsters who'd come to hear Stravinsky and some little kids with Park Slope parents, and it was largely white and Asian (lots of Latino families were having picnics on the lawn just outside the entrance gate). We were hot and sweaty and occasionally fanning ourselves, but the show was just as good as the one we saw at the pool two years ago.

Deerhoof began handing out the Offend Maggie single "Fresh Born" in the form of sheet music. WNYC talked with the band about the project backstage, and then went into the audience with a bag of toy instruments, asking folks to take a stab at the tune:

Rather than bore any more with our enthralled but ignorant take on Deerhoof's performance, and mindful of what University of Florida law professor Roy Hunt taught us about fair use in our Intellectual Property class, we herewith present some cogent comments from bloggers more skilled at words than we are (please go to their sites for their extended commentary).

Evan Genest:
Deerhoof rocked the house and fans responded. Two indicators:

1) The aisles of the pavillion were packed with standing people, violating the usual decorum that keeps standing people out on the lawn. Fans couldn't help themselves.
2) The concession stand was dead. "Yeah, this is kind of a first." a casher said. " Usually during any set, there's a steady rotation of traffic for beer and food."

Deerhoof really has something for everyone. The foundation is Gang of Four guitars and Primus eggheadtechnical bass. The drummer is super spaz, flailing like a thresher trying to beat sundown.

Visually, it's a backdrop of three beanpole looking Berklee School of Music guys with bad posture, holding forth like a slacker Mt Rushmore behind a four-foot-something peppy girl who sings the entire set in Japanese.

Kevin K. at RumpRoast
[G]ood cripes, were they stellar. They’ve added a fourth member, guitarist Ed Rogriguez, and the interplay between him and John Dieterich definitely kicked things up a notch compared to the show I saw last summer. Lead singer and bassist Satomi Matsuzaki was as adorable and captivating as ever and, man, Deerhoof’s founding member Greg Saunier is just a flat-out amazing drummer. Possibly the best working the indie rock circuit these days. What he accomplished on stage last night with just a bass drum, snare and cymbal was inconceivable. They’re not really touring right now, but If they play near you anytime soon, make sure you go.

Tue at En Amagerkaner i New York (fresh off the boat falbelader):
Brooklyns Prospect Park (designet af den samme mand, der designede Central Park) udgjorde rammen for koncerten. Opvarmningen var et mindre symfoniorkester, der spillede Stravinskys “Le sacre du printemps” - så var scenen ligesom sat for atonaliteterne. Agnete og jeg kom dog først netop som Deerhoof gik på. Ikke noget med at bevæge sig for hurtigt her i varmen - selv nu her lidt over midnat er det 27 grader. Koncerten var en af de her betal-hvad-du-vil ting med en foreslået entre på $3.

Det er faktisk sjældent jeg synes bands bliver bedre af at blive hørt live. Det er sjovt at gå til koncert, fordi man ser giraffen og der er forhåbentlig noget dynamik mellem musikere og publikum. Men hvis man hører optagelsen af koncerten bagefter, lyder det næsten altid dårligere end studieversionen. Jeg kan ikke huske hvornår jeg sidst har sat en live-plade på. Det skulle vise sig, at Deerhoof er et af de få bands, hvor koncert-formen næsten passer bedre end album-formatet.

En afsluttende trivia-kommentar: Deerhoof er et af Simpsons-skaberen Matt Groenings yndlingsband. Så ved I det, næste gang I får dét spørgsmål, når I står på den lyserøde.

Elizabeth at Wassup Rockers:
Deerhoof were absolutely lovely. I didn’t know a lot of the songs and assumed they played a lot of new shit, though after a few unfamiliar songs I panicked and was like, “What if they’re just old songs I’m not familiar with?!?!” Truth is, I only own like two of their albums; I’ve heard like three or four of them in their entirety and they’re mad prolific so who knows what I’m been missing!! They might have played old stuff, though I doubt it. The newer stuff, for some reason, sounded more melancholic to my ears. They played some great older shit, but c’mon, they didn’t even do “Panda Panda Panda.” I know “Running Thoughts” would be asking for too much, but why not “Panda Panda Panda”?? Inquiring minds wanna know.

Yo, Greg Saunier is crazy. He went up to the mic a couple of times and was Paula Abdul-level incoherent, though he managed to inform us we could pick up free sheet music for their first Offend Maggie single, “Fresh Born,” at the Celebrate Brooklyn booth. All the fanboys were geeking. There was one kid who was dancing so intensely he was like, having seizures. Imagine how crazy he dances when he’s alone in his room?!?! Anyways, Greg is fucking awesome, it’s like his inner rhythm machine has only three settings, Supersoft, Hard and SUPERFUCKINGHARD. It didn’t dawn on me until today that the reason he looks so huge at the drums is not just because he’s damn tall, it’s also because the kit hardly has any pieces. Maybe like three pieces… I mean, Nick Andopolis would laugh his ass off at Greg’s kit, y’know what I’m sayin’? The other thing that I realized is that as jerky and out of control he might seem, Greg is totally right on when it comes to keeping time. Dude’s brilliant.

To which commenter TwoDishes responded:
Wow, best show of any band in like two years, for me. Best moment is half the band off stage while they hold the feedback note on the guitar for, what, 40 seconds, frozen like statues.

An aged fan there to see the Rite of Spring was cranky, yelling at fans rushing the aisle between the folding chairs. He was super old. His reading material between sets was the plastic bag of free supermarket flyers that the mailman leaves on the doorstoop.

It wasn't us! Honest! Deerhoof made last night wonderful!

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