all words and photos: Julian Vu
Each time I see Deerhoof, they get less cute and more serious, thank goodness. Admittedly the initial hook for some of Deerhoof’s fans are Satomi’s cute vocals and demure. The very pocket-sized Japanese singer wielding a perfectly-sized Hofner bass is enough for many, including myself, to get hooked.
The evening started out with local Dischord openers E.D. Sedgwick (http://www.dischord.com/band/edie-sedgwick). Not only were they the first openers on a triple bill, they were the first openers on a triple bill of an early show that started at 7:30. Frontman E.D. Sedgwick tried his best to liven up the crowd that was a little more than half bored with the poor guy’s attempts.
Though general apathy seemed to seep from audience to stage, they certainly powered through and by the end of their set, a handful of the audience saw the sort of angles they had working for them once they dropped whatever shtick they were going for and started playing catchier music. Backup vocals were lost in the mix, and the guitar was definitely screeching in a manner incongruent to the rest of the band’s sounds. I hate to rag on a local band (Dischord, no less!), especially one that certainly attempts to make interesting music, but E.D. Sedgwick had a tough time making a believer out of me.
Second up was Benjy Ferree and the Dees involving wife Laura Jean and Ferree’s two very, very, very young step-brothers. I’m not sure I’m equipped to write on this as I had very low expectations for any of Deerhoof’s openers, despite having the indie pedigree and street cred that they tend to have. In any event, Benjy Ferree and the Dees took some warming up to get used to, but they certainly had steadier footing than the first openers.
I immediately thought of the young members as a sort of gimmick, but truth be told they brought it with bells on, not only in stage presence but sheer talent too. These dudes were having fun, and so was the crowd so kudos on that. I’m also a sucker for theremin, and whatever raw angle Ferree tries to come from, it shows that the man is super technical as his theremin playing was spot on and precise.
When Deerhoof finally took the stage, some things seemed the same; Greg Saunier still had a very minimal kit this time consisting of of bass, snare and hi-hat. Ed Rodriguez seemed happy as ever to be playing, John Dieterich seemed to be in his own zone, and Satomi was strangely uninterested.
Despite the outcry of love from the audience, Deerhoof’s members seemed to ignore it all and just power through their set. The Offend Maggie heavy still hit all the same notes as their last sets in town, but again the unenthusedness seemed to make them even more disconnected. Regardless, most concertgoers just didn’t care. Young kids to old folks all marveled at Saunier’s animal-style drumming, Ed and John’s angular guitar, and certain Satomi’s…………preciousness?
Saunier finally took a moment to thank the crowd and openers in his characteristic awkward Fozzie-the-Bear style of delivery. It was then that he recognized the tension. After that point it was all smooth sailing as Deerhoof continued to play mostly songs from Deerhoof vs. Evil but certainly making sure not to skip out on their most golden jams from Milk Man and Runners Four.
Deerhoof also covered Beck’s “Cyanide Breathmint” which gave a chance for Saunier to shred on guitar and flex his pipes (which he also did on “The Merry Barracks”). More importantly, Satomi on drums.
Whatever emotions Satomi had bottled up, she let them out on the super catchy “Basketball Get your Groove Back”.