Monday, August 9, 2010

Deerhunter's not-so-secret show at 529

Posted By on Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 8:45 PM

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With less than a day’s notice Deerhunter’s not-so-secret show at 529 on Aug. 8 was packed out … and it was hot as hell. But the heat only seemed to make people act a little more comfortable in their own skins, which set the stage for an epic performance.

The tight-lipped foursome were uncharacteristically animated on stage, and seeing Deerhunter play in such close quarters stirs a different kind of energy from what happens when they perform in larger venues. Playing face-to-face with an audience demands a much more visceral energy than what happens when playing to the tops of their heads. When standing only inches away from Josh Fauver’s contorting bass strings and Bradford Cox’s rapid strumming, that exchange of energy becomes palpable.

Many of the songs they played will materialize on Halcyon Digest next month on 4AD. It’s an album that’s defined by a jangling pop sensibility. But it moves at its own pace, like R.E.M. circa Reckoning. The songs are quietly bold and pronounced, but never one-dimensional. It’s a dark and implosive album that’s littered with death-afflicted verses, anxiety and themes of psychological strain bleeding over from childhood. But on stage and in the moment the hooks are what move the audience. “Desire Lines,” one of the new numbers sung by Lockett Pundt on Sunday night, dials into a shimmering groove and blows out the moment with Krautrock ambiance. Through it all the rhythm section that rumbles behind so many guitar textures in the band's songs is never more apparent or addictive than it is when they are playing live.

They ran through a handful of older songs as well, including “Never Stops” and “Nothing Ever Happened” fromMicrocastle. “Hazel Street” and “Spring Hall Convert” from Cryptograms emerged from the swarming resonance as well. But, of course, “Fluorescent Grey” was the absolute high point.

The show felt more like a party than a concert — like a practice run of the songs they'll be taking on the road soon. But most of all it was about having fun with their hometown crowd.

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