A crowd at a live show usually plays a certain role. Audience members are in the dark, staring 20 degrees up at the musician. Those closer to the front say that they can feel it more if their chests push against the rails. They get excited when the musician reaches out into the sea of people to grab some hands.
Spend a few minutes at a Dan Deacon show, and you’ll quickly discover how he naturally breaks the typical rules of a performer without specifically wanting to. He just wants to have fun and engage the crowd. Often, he’ll completely ignore the stage and set up right in the pit, allowing a lot more to happen than the audience is used to.
Sometimes someone will step on a power cord and short out a part of a song. Other times, security guards or good Samaritans have to hold up the table that holds his chest-high effect pedals and computers.
He also breaks the rules when it comes to his attire. It is a mix of comfort, tackiness, oddness, camp, flashiness and fun.
And we like it.
We recently got to experience the visually engaging and always-entertaining Dan Deacon in a sweaty, intimate show in Florida’s panhandle. His Korean-born hat was adorned with four arts-and-crafts stores’ worth of yellow and eggplant sequins, and his Nike shoes celebrated spin art or Nash skateboards of the early ’90s. He was kind enough to let us pull him aside and ask some questions about his personal style.
Paste: Tell us about the evolution of your style. When did today’s Dan Deacon become today’s Dan Deacon?
Dan Deacon: I think like most people it started somewhere and then slowly shifted over time with the influence of experiences and interactions. For me, that somewhere was trying to create music that was fun and weird, that didn’t sound like anything else. It was also very important that it wasn’t pretentious in any way. The music scene in the early ‘00s, especially the electronic scene, was very esoteric and had a heavy air of sophistication and properness around it that I completely hated. My clothing choices reflected this. Over time, that fun-driven influence shifted from just blanket fun to something more
a celebration. I wanted to have content and context rather than just raging just to rage. Doing that started to seem empty night after night. So I think that’s what brought us to where I currently am today.
Paste: Visually, your live show is very appealing, from the colors of your effects pedals to your synched light display to your bright and admirable outfits. How and when did this start?
Deacon: I’ve always liked bright colors, and it’s always been a part of my style.
Paste: What would 12-year-old Dan Deacon say to 31-year-old Dan Deacon about his attire? What about the other way?
Deacon: My mom used to shop for me by asking the person at the store for their ugliest shirt because she knew it would be the one I like best. I had this green paisley shirt with pheasants all over it. I think we’d just talk about that shirt.
Paste: When it comes to your live set or a typical Wednesday afternoon, what other musician’s visual styles do you like and admire?
Deacon: Devlin Rice of Ed Schrader’s Music Beat has a solid wardrobe. Weird Al has been taking some conservative-leaning risks lately, but that’s his choice. Grand Buffet has to be the most awesome combo of humans. Their styles together are amazing.
Paste: Are there any clothes that you fear that the laundry monsters will one day eat?
Paste: Who are your style icons? Any family members? Is Papa Deacon sporting a wicked novelty sweater these days?
Deacon: My grandmother had killer style. Classic Long Island grandma style. I guess Devo would be icons for sure. Yosemite Sam, too.