Busdriver and Deerhoof – Irving Plaza 1/20/07

Deerhoof and busdriver – 1/26 Irving Plaza show
Category: Music

Deerhoof is one of those bands that some people say “where the hell do you hear this stuff? I’ve never heard of them” – and then proceed to ask if you have any Dave Matthews bootlegs. Others say dismissively, “Oh yeah, they’re like really popular now” and proceed to tell you about the most amazing 3-person band of 19-year-olds from a) Leeds b) south Winnipeg or c) Greenpoint. Neither of these responses is entirely accurate: lots of people have heard of them: Deerhoof has opened for Radiohead; but lots of people have no idea who Radiohead is.

And lots of peeps saw Deerhoot play to a soldout/oversold Irving Plaza on Friday night.

As Wikipedia succinctly puts it: “Deerhoof is an experimental rock band from San Fransisco. A critical favorite, their music is noted for its unconventional song structures, lyrics and rhythms.” Others would say the band layers mystifying, repetitive, little-girl psycho vocals over complicated and rather original drums and guitar.

Lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki is not to everyone’s taste – her opaque lyrics and heavy Japanese accent cross over the line from “fascinating! what does that echo/mean/suggest/connote/refer to?” to “WTF is she talking about? who the hell give a shit?” a little too often for some. Still, their sheer musicianship and offbeat, complicated interplay, stop-start rhythms, and maddening hints of melody can pull you in.

They sure pulled ’em into Irving Plaza on an icy Friday – the body-to-body crowd was a mass of head-noddin’ hipsters sweating in their winter wear, myself among ’em. This show had some serious pounding beats and fewer dissonant pop tweaks. If you’re head didn’t nod a bit you had a big stick up your butt.

I first heard Deerhoof on WOXY or KEXP.com and not been impressed, but at the free McCarren Park shows in Williamsburg, Brklyn, this summer, Satomi’s pure focus and concentrated craziness onstage had quite hooked me. Last night’s show was a lot tighter and leaner musically.

About 1/2 hour in, a bass drum head broke and started flapping. Now extra bass drums are not often carried around by little indie bands, (even if they did open for The Roots and Radiohead, they’re little) and when drummer Greg Saunier shyly came to the microphone to explain the problem, we all groaned. But they cut out the offending head and played on.

Renewing my faith in the perspicacity and incisive commentary of concert attendees, one be-hatted 20-something behind me noted carefully to his date: “Whoa, they were so intense they broke the drum. Whoa. That’s intense.”

Their new album “Friend Opportunity” is far more melodic than the last, but they ain’t no sing-along. Yet bizarre threads of “Everyday People” float thru one of the hooks in the new tunes, leading nowhere but to a bit of nostalgia and a desire to hear a bit more. Their songs are actually songs, and the mystifying no-wave thing seems a thing of the past.

John and Greg, guitar and drum respectively, took a brief turn at the mic to thank the crowd – quite sincerely too. They seemed a llittle awed and bewildered by the head-on intensity of the NYC crowd shouting “DeerHOOF, deerHOOF!” at the end. Hey, NYC crowds are intense. And so is Deerhoof. Both were a good meet-up; crowd and band were well-met at last night’s show.

The two openers:
Proton Proton featured a lead singer with vaguely Eddie Vedder-ish vocal stylings. Advice: break up or get better.

Busdriver: fuckin’ ROCKED the place. A hyper collegiate rapper with rapid-fire delivery and a great, muscular wound-up body he put to good use in service to the lyrics, busdriver just about exploded on stage.

Pals M and M and I were ensconced downstairs between bands in the little-known but highly desirable Irving Plaza “couch of sloth” when we heard the pounding from upstairs.

Every body in the place looked rather electrified as busdriver rammed thru song after song. Worth checking out in person: YouTube

doesn’t do him justice.

1:11 AM – 6 Comments – 3 Kudos – Add CommentEditRemove

Michael Mayham and the Mike

Oh man, best advice to a band I’ve ever heard:

“Break up or get better”.  Ha! That’s the second best thing actually.  The best thing I ever heard was my friend John Barry who said to someone (not me!) “You’re very good at what you do……..but what you do ain’t good!”

Yeah, you sure said it: oversold!!  It was hard to get into the show strictly because of the physical discomfort of having to stand still, bobbing your head was about all space would allow! And let’s not forget to mention ducking that guy in the brown 70’s pleather jacket who was rocking and whipping his upperbody, neck, and skull (and mane!) forward and backward, just barely missing you, me, M, and everybody else.  Amazingly, the sound man (who it turned out I knew) told me that he had actually noticed this guy from high up at the soundboard, in the back of the room, in the balcony, far away from where we were (near the front) and he told me he just fixated on this guy the entire night, singling him out of the entire crowd.  Small world.

Posted by Michael Mayham and the Mike on Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 3:00 AM
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HA! Yeah, i couldn’t decide to put in head-whipping guy but I figured, “STOP you’ve written enough!”
So thank you for getting in that excellent description.
Sound guy is too funny – he is right, that guy was mesmerizing. I bet no one who saw that guy thre will ever forget him at that concert.

btw: did some research on busdriver and his set was not deceptive – he is pretty intriguing.

Posted by Ellen on Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 9:59 AM
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Perspicacity? Oh, yeah, Keen!
I like the Deerhoof drummer, big and juicy. As to breaking drum heads, “You don’t know your limits ’til you exceed them.” W. Blake and well maybe you just gotta carry a spare.
Back in the day when The Replacements were too young to buy a beer at the bar, there was a band, MMB, had an amaaaazing chick drummer ever, they so rock’d that on a tues. nite it was wall-to-wall at the Longhorn (mpls). About the most fun I ever had dancing. They made a stab at NYC, ran into some kind of shit and they broke up. It was really sad, but I guess we all got over it.

Posted by neil on Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 7:42 AM
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Delicious Wolf

I have never heard this Deerhoof… but from that clip they sound a bit like Broken Social Scene… I’m not a fan of BSS recorded stuff… but live they are quite enchanting…

Now I must proceed to torrentspy and find some Deerhoof…

Posted by Delicious Wolf on Sunday, January 28, 2007 at 10:54 AM
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Fugazi Fan

Bass drums can also break (a) from excessive usage; perhaps the reason we don’t normally see breakage during a show is because most drummers replace their drum heads before they break; (b) cheap drum heads.

Posted by Fugazi Fan on Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 12:14 PM
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Michael Mayham and the Mike

Just had to chime in and respond to this last comment, just to clear it up, since I happen to know the reason.

The reason the head broke is because they flew in from San Francisco and were using the opening act’s drumset.  The opening act’s drummer’s bass pedal was screwy, and the “beater” flew off in the middle of a song, and sliced open the drum head.

As you were!

Posted by Michael Mayham and the Mike on Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 11:25 AM
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