by Eric Sandy
Opening with "Fresh Born" and winding their way through their 11-album catalog, the musicians offered no quarter to the rapt audience. Each member of Deerhoof brings a different sound and attitude to the show. Drummer Greg Saunier, who sprouted an extra three arms during the show, utterly destroyed his small-scale drum set (bass drum, snare, hi-hat, crash). Guitarists Ed Rodriguez and John Dieterich traded high and low melodies, frequently playing off each other. Dieterich often cranked up some sort of octave pedal, manipulating his Telecaster toward a trippy bass line.
Satomi Matsuzaki, the frenetic frontwoman and bassist, injected each tune with a dazzling array of dance moves and melodic crooning. Whenever she would step back from the mic, as in during interlude portions of, say, "Flower," she'd use arms, legs, head to add an eye-catching visual to the sonic frenzy around her.
The musical highlight of the night came when "Bad Kids to the Front" descended into a wild-ass jam, only to be followed up immediately by the slightly poppier "There's That Grin."
And w/r/t the audience: Everyone in attendance was focused on the music and either dancing or head-bobbing to the mania onstage. Really great crowd.
At one point, about midway through the show, Saunier walked across the stage and took the mic. He began a very circuitous discussion about the band's process of choosing tour stops. Amid long pauses and redundancies, Saunier rambled toward his eventual point: that no one in the band either had an opinion on Beachland Ballroom prior to the tour or, in the case of Dieterich, could even remember what it looked like. Saunier said that not knowing precisely what the Beachland was like caused him nightmares that ballooned into visions of a massive stadium that the band would never be able to fill.
Turns out, it's just a little Croatian social hall. But even when the band arrived yesterday, they couldn't place the stage or the bar or really anything about the place - until they began setting up their merch table in the hallway.
"We went to set up the merch table out there in the hall and suddenly John was, like, in sheer joy. It all came back to him. He remembers that hallway; he just doesn't remember the stage or the city or the audience. So we would like to thank all of you for promising to come and making it possible for us to have this incredibly wonderful experience - really, that we've already had - but it was a really nice time in the hallway earlier."