Deerhoof at Central United Church (Calgary, AB)
Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: Canada, Live, Music, Photos, Video.
Prior to the show, I overheard someone in the church pew behind me ask “Those don’t look like standard Deerhoof guitars, do they?” While I’m not sure exactly what standard Deerhoof guitars are supposed to look like I doubt that they were disappointed as guitarists Ed Rodriguez and John Dieterich took to the stage, progressively introducing an electric version “Panda Panda Panda.” Following with a pair of songs, the group unexpectedly dove into a rendition of the Ramones’ “Pinhead,” led by Dieterich on vocals. Following the song drummer Greg Saunier awkwardly took to the microphone, humorously rambling while he gave the guitarists time to prepare for the next song. His charming story-telling had completely won the crowd over by the time he concluded his bit of self-deprecating commentary; he would return to the mic two more times before the night ended.
The band continued with another series of songs including “Chandelier Searchlight,” “Wrong Time Capsule” and “The Perfect Me” before vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki returned to the crowd—her, Rodriguez and Dieteric had previously ventured into the first row earlier in the set (see: video above). For “Come See The Duck” she strolled down the aisle as the band continued to roar. This eventually led to a polarizing crowd response: as Matsuzaki was seeking a bit of participation some members of the crowd enthusiastically joined in when she encouraged a response while others sat in an awkward daze.
After a break the band mixed instruments up a bit and Saunier assumed the role of the group’s third guitarist for a song before taking the lead for a rendition of Canned Heat’s “Going Up The Country” with Matsuzaki taking over drum-detail. “Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back” played the band out as they left through a door at the back of the stage, though the break was a short one.
Earlier in the night, while Lorrie Matheson and Wild Choir worked their sound checks, I noticed Saunier roaming around the church. I had done an email interview with him a few years ago and after introducing myself he seemed to have a vague memory of it… which is probably for the best. He was enthusiastic about the performance and the sound in the venue, mentioning how he he hoped the band would sound as good during their show as they did in sound check. Continuously the focal point of the set, his spastic drumming was as dazzling as it was brilliant, his pre-show wishes came true throughout the set as the band’s sound translated wonderfully during the performance. The high point, however, came as Deerhoof returned to the stage and Saunier sat down at the church’s grand piano which was off-stage next to the crowd. He and Matsuzaki continued by gracefully collaborating for a touching duet, with the guitarists wisely adding but a few brushes of their strings for a bit of added depth. The crowd was left in a hush and even as Saunier walked away from the piano it took a few moments before the audience came to its senses and erupted in applause. The set closed with a roaring version of “Milking” and the band’s departure from the stage was met with a standing round of applause; a well-deserved ovation if ever I’ve seen one.