Over the past few weeks it seems like every other conversation I have had has been about the amazing holidays that my friends and colleagues have been on during the summer months. My Facebook feed is wall to wall golden sandy beaches, lush tropical rainforests and exquisite renaissance-era architecture. My week in the Ashdown Forest looking after my parents’ cat rather pales by comparison.
But now, thankfully, I have just as awe-inspiring an experience about which to wax lyrical; for tonight, in a cavernous subterranian retreat beneath the sordid streets of Shoreditch, Deerhoof are a spectacle just as wondrous as any mountain range, great lake or island paradise. Satomi Matsuzaki’s dancing creates more joy than any vibrant street festival could ever muster, Greg Saunier’s drumming penetrates deeper into the soul than an aromatherapeutic massage and the plumage on guitarist Ed Rodriguez’s azure get-up would put any bird of paradise to shame.
Before we get onto that though, there’s the intriguing prospect of Belgian sextet Le Ton Mité, whose playful melange of jazz, classical and folk from all corners of the globe is made all the more entertaining by the wild gesticulations and double recorder playing of frontman McCloud ZICMUSE, though rather spoiled by the number of obtrusive conversations being held by many of those around the venue.
How to describe the wonder that is Deerhoof? I suppose one of the things that makes them so special is their ability to make complex, technical, occasionally discordant music so much damn fun. Like Philip Glass reworking ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’, they take elements of the avant-garde, experimental jazz and post-rock, mash in a healthy dose of bluesy punk rock and use the resulting mixture to make songs like ‘Panda Panda Panda’ and ‘Basketball Get Your Groove Back’, which are so delightfully frolicsome that they cause an outbreak of ear to ear smiles around the room.
New album Mountain Moves features a number of guest vocalists, which renders much of it unperformable tonight, but with a further thirteen albums worth of material to choose from they’re hardly stuck for options and we get old favourites like peerless jitterbug ‘The Perfect Me’ from 2007’s Friend Opportunity alongside more recent tracks such as riff-tastic rock stomper ‘Kafe Mania’ from last year’s The Magic.
Onstage Deerhoof are utterly charming, Rodriguez preens in a heavily tassled outfit, his mane of curls flying in the glare of the spotlights, fellow guitarist John Dieterich lurks in the shadows, head down, glaring at his instrument and occasionally recoiling as if it’s sending out intermittent electric shocks and he’s trying to fathom their cause. Shorn of her bass towards the end of the set, vocalist Satomi dances like she’s bringing a light aircraft in to land and engages in some audience participation during a euphoric encore, and I could watch Greg Saunier drum all day without tiring of it, though the moments that he steps away from the kit and stoops down to Satomi’s mic to deliver a monologue in halting Steven Wright deadpan are equally entertaining.
Constantly evolving and endlessly enthralling, the next time you feel the need to get away from it all, treat yourself to a break in Deerhoof’s majestic landscape.
Review and Photography by Paul Maps