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LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

December 5, 2008
Banner image by Mike White, used under a Creative Commons license.


Earlier this week as Bradford Cox and company finished their preparations for their show at the Loft in Dallas, I anxiously wondered how many of Deerhunter's songs would translate well into a live show. An admitted Youtube junky, I've seen my fair share of live clips of the band online, some decent and others forgettable. I consider both their full-length albums, Cryptograms and Microcastle (and even Weird Era Continued), excellent in both sound and production, and because of the latter's importance thought that a live delivery might require the band to filter out some of the essential elements that make those albums so successful and unique. Rather than simply rely on my own impression, I had my father accompany me to the show for two reasons: (1) he is a fountain of music knowledge, and any opportunity to chat with him regarding music is a pleasure; and (2) he's somewhat of a Deerhunter skeptic, who thinks the band is talented, but falls short on their full-length albums. Cutting to the chase, the show was an absolute riot, and my father enjoyed the show as much or more than I did.

Tuning up and plugging in, the band quickly quelled any fears I may have had coming into the show. The set began with the intro to Cryptograms, and then quickly moved into the title track of the accompanying disk. The most obvious difference between Deerhunter's live shows and their albums is Cox's voice; while he still employs some subtle voice manipulation techniques, for the most part his voice is natural. Cox has an extremely soothing and pleasant voice without any manipulations, and it is perhaps more engaging live than on disc. Also, this is one of the reasons that my father was so attracted to the live show as compared to their records. "Never Stops" was the first song played from their most recent album, Microcastle, and was perhaps more provocative from the stage than from a stereo (that, or it was the extremely large speaker next to me). The cohesion of the band was quite obvious from the beginning, as they easily waltzed from track to track, extending or revising songs at their leisure.

Fans were somewhat subdued when the show began, as per most concerts, but livened up as the band became more raucous and enthralling. The Loft was a more than adequate venue, and provided fans with an intimate setting and great sound, the only essentials needed for a good show. The only drawback was the small floor area in front of the stage, which was filled with bodies and sometimes tough to navigate.

As the concert took its course, it became more and more clear that the group's drummer, Moses Archuleta, is the most essential and talented person in the band behind Cox. If not, he's at least the hardest working member on stage. The gifted rhythm man is repeatedly charged with maintaining lengthy and arduous beats as the rest of the band rocks out in a state of relaxation. Perhaps the most engaging and euphoric track during the show was one from their most recent Microcastle bonus disc, Weird Era Continued. The track, "Calvary Scars II," begins with Cox wailing on guitar and humming softly. Fortunately for the fans (and unfortunately for Archuleta), the track evolves into an all-out ripper, with Cox eventually playing a bell set, leaving Archuleta and company to keep the enthralling structure nailed down.

Another major highlight of the band's set was the track "Nothing Ever Happened," from Microcastle, which highlighted Deerhunter's true excellence in composing extended, cyclical songs that grip the listener from beginning to end. Most of the tracks also showcased the musical dexterity of Cox, as he often drops his guitar in search of other complimentary instruments, a variation that in turn allows other members like Archuleta to showcase their talents as well. Real gems throughout the show were found in the delivery of "Octet," "Agoraphobia," "Microcastle," and "Saved by Old Times." There were some very notable exceptions, such as "Lake Somerset" and "Fluorescent Grey," but with an ever-deepening catalog and a limited amount of time who can ask for everything?

The show ended with a flurry of activity, as most Deerhunter shows are notorious for. During the ending to their last song, "Twilight at Carbon Lake" (reportedly Cox's mom's favorite), the rangy front man stood on a speaker and wrapped the microphone chord around his neck while assuming a Christ-like crucifixion pose, which he held until he was content that everyone had acknowledged the theatrics. Josh Fauver gave his bass guitar to a fan in the front row, who leaped onto the stage and began wailing uncontrollably before becoming entangled in Cox's microphone chord. After the dust settled, the show ended with Cox and guitarist Whitney Petty attempting to coax each other's genitals into singing. Unfortunately, both sets failed to produce anything more for the audience. All in all, it was a magnificent performance by one of the most talented and electrifying bands of the day.

SEE ALSO: www.myspace.com/deerhunter
SEE ALSO: www.kranky.net

--
Brian Christopher Jones
A student living in Scotland and working toward a PhD in law.

See other articles by Brian Christopher Jones.

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