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Monday, July 9, 2007

Deerhunter and Fiery Furnaces at the Earl - 7/7/07

By the time I reached the Earl, signs reading “TONIGHT’S SHOW IS SOLD OUT” were plastered all over the front door. This was bad news for my dumb-ass friends who refused to buy tickets before the show. While they stood outside, devising convoluted plots to infiltrate the venue, I slipped inside, ticket in hand.

The crowd seemed pretty atypical for a Fiery Furnaces show. It was all cargo shorts and sandals. I couldn’t figure out whether the place was packed because of the Fiery Furnaces or the hometown heroes, Deerhunter. Deerhunter took the stage looking like a ragtag gang of world-weary high schoolers (the singer later joked about the guitarist being 12). Under blue lights, the band built up a fog of ambient noise before launching into “Cryptograms,” the title track of its last LP.

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The sheer volume of the music sent hoards of cargo shorts retreating back to the bar. The scene reminded me of My Bloody Valentine’s practice of weeding out dilettantes by maxing out the PA. Once the dilettantes were weeded out, the Atlanta natives tore through all of the Fluorescent Grey EP and most of their LP, Cryptograms. The band was able to move from ambient tranquility to freak-out attack mode and vice versa with startling fluidity. The bassist laid down thick, bouncy grooves, while the singer looped and layered his vocals, causing them to swell and dissipate in waves.

By the time my friends had snuck in, vocalist Bradford Cox was dedicating a song to an audience member who claimed it was his birthday. He then proceeded to sing “Flourescent Gray” to the birthday boy, while mimicking Marilyn Monroe’s “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” dance. The Fiery Furnaces may have been headlining, but the show belonged to Deerhunter.

The brother/sister duo of the Fiery Furnaces was accompanied by a guitarist, a drummer, and a percussionist. The extra percussion gave their tunes a funky, jungle-boogie vibe. The set started with a polyrhythmic version of “In My Little Thatched Hut” and continued in the same energetic vein for about an hour. The highlight was a psych-doo-wop version of their sunny pop song, “Here Comes the Summer.” My only complaint was that the band never gave the audience a chance to catch its breath. By the time the band returned for its encore, most of the crowd was gone. Maybe they were there for Deerhunter.

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