I struggle to write a review these days. I’m not a trained journalist, I’m a music fan. I’m middle aged. I don’t have a trend to align myself to. I hear good albums and see good gigs all the time. What I don’t see or hear that much is anything I have anything much interesting to say about.
You’re lucky to see a band at their best play a great gig. I’ve been lucky enough to do so several times in my life, but more often that not I’m seeing a good band play a good show. That is nothing to sniff at, but it is nothing to write home about.
So attending Deerhunter this week I was lucky enough to see a really really good band play an interesting, and definitely unusual gig.
I’d looked at recent set-lists and I had a good idea of what the band would play. 5 or 6 tracks from the latest album and Halcyon Digest (each) and a couple from earlier albums. This in itself is very good news as these are, to my mind, their best two albums with (the lengthily titled) Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? being a contender for album of the year.
The gig started as such. After some really nasty white noise (for about 5 minutes) Bradford and Co. play some really solid versions of those tracks. ‘No Ones Sleeping’ is great, ‘Revival’ is beautiful. The set continues as expected.
Between tracks Bradford engages with the crowd, he’s witty and likeable, his faux-English accent amuses me. About half way through the evening things start to get a bit weirder. He announces the start of a dance contest that he’d hinted at earlier in the evening.
Six people are invited onto the stage and the band start to play a sort of mid-60s instrumental tune whilst the contestants dance awkwardly on the stage. This lasts for some time. At the end of this a voting process begins where the acts are judged based on the loudness of the audience clapping and cheering. At the end of this Bradford Cox picks his favourite and they are awarded the trophy.
This rather lengthy diversion has eaten into lot of song time, so it is another surprise when the band decide to play their new, non-album, 13 minute single ‘Timebends’. This is the first live outing for the song, and it is great, but t probably knocks another three songs off the list for the evening.
It is at this point that the gig takes a lengthier break. Bradford appears to want to stop playing for a while and starts chatting to the crowd. This goes on for some time. So long that audience discontent starts to set in. It is fascinating to watch. It has the same feel as an extended Stewart Lee joke, the longer it continues the funnier it seems. Conversely, to those who want him to play some more songs the more annoyed they get.
After 30(!) minutes someone shouts “Nothing Ever Happened!” and Bradford immediately agrees. The band then play this early favourite and it sounds great. It is at this point that the band are told their time is up and leave the stage, Bradford himself clearly a bit surprised to have run out of time.
A great gig? Perhaps not. An interesting and memorable gig? Definitely.
By Dorian Rogers