All words: Paula Mejia — All photos: Ryan Kelly
Noise rock is cool, and every band in the universe experimenting with noise has The Velvet Underground to thank for that. Like Lou and the gang, Bay Area freak-rockers Deerhoof are no strangers to noise. At the Black Cat this past Wednesday, the four embraced the beautiful chaos of noise rock by implementing a distinctive whimsy that had the entire crowd bouncing.
There are no hierarchies in Deerhoof. Songs are entitled anything from “The Trouble With Candyhands” and “Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back.” Traditional rules do not exist. Matsuzaki does not stand before the other bandmates, hidden toward the back. The four — with two on guitar, one thumping along on the bass and the other shattering the drums, play in a single file line, all at the same level.
Like their contemporaries The Flaming Lips, Of Montreal and Xiu Xiu, Deerhoof’s sound is impossible to describe in a handful of words and genres. Live, the group implements a base of noise, layered beneath cupcake-sweet melodies from lead vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki, messy guitar riffs and a steady oscillation of both dissonance and distortion to craft a rambunctious sound, let alone a magnetic stage presence.
The band began with a banger, implementing equal parts garage and psychedelia. Soon after, Matsuzaki changed the pace by utilizing her vocals — a central instrument to the band’s sound — as a sort of distorted lullaby. One that Captain Beefhart may play to his children. It’s tough to say whether her vocals are actually English words but hey, no one’s really taking grammatical notes. The importance is the effect that her vocals have on the distortion and guitarlines, occasionally heavy, but still managing to make lyrics like “Let it go / Let it all behind” sound eternally sunny.
What a coincidence that BYT’s Fashion Night Out occurred this Thursday, as the group took the stage in an assortment of color-coordinated, fashion-forward outfits! Save for guitarist Ed Rodriguez (sporting a ruffled pirate shirt adorned with some sort of flower — probably petunias?), all were clad in tassel-adorned shirts, with Matsuzaki’s cheetah-print top stealing the show. It makes sense, though: Deerhoof has graduated to become among the ranks of the most unpredictably delightful bands to see live, and with credible musicianship to back them up.
- “The Tears and Music of Love” from Offend Maggie. Raw power!
- The commentary from drummer Greg Saunier midway through the set, dramatically introducing the forthcoming tracks from newest release Breakup Song
- The humility of the band – after hearing that a certain Dylan was turning 15 years old that night, the band broke out into a freewheeling version of “Happy birthday,” then turned it into a mathy number right after
- Dope Body
- America Hearts