Live: Deerhunter @ Vacation Gallery 8/15/08

Music Reviews Deerhunter
Live: Deerhunter @ Vacation Gallery 8/15/08

“Where’s the Lil Wayne iPod?” Bradford Cox demanded. After a botched attempt at micing someone’s iPhone, an MP3 player was ferried in and “A Milli” blasted from the amplifiers. “I don’t write shit, cause I ain’t got time,” Cox growled over Weezy’s trademark flow before launching into “Calvary Scars,” a track from Deerhunter’s upcoming LP, Microcastle.

The Deerhunter before us, wedged in a kitschy little DIY gallery in Virginia Highlands, was a different beast than the one manifested on its first two albums. If this (free) live performance was any indication, Microcastle is also a departure from the status quo, gravitating heavily towards the melodic post-punk of Cryptograms.

One of Deerhunter’s more admirable talents is their ability to keep a foot planted on each side of the line between acidic, spaced-out instrumentals and endlessly hummable riffs. This night was no exception: The show was a patchwork of fuzzed-out guitars shot skyward by sheer volume, as Cox and company marched forth bearing the mantle discarded by My Bloody Valentine. Standbys like “Basement” and “Strange Lights” motivated the mostly mopey crowd to shuffle their feet, spurred on by admonitions from the band to try to look like they’re having a good time. And newer material like “Never Stops” would feel comfortable in Guided By Voices’ discography, albeit turned up 30 decibels.


The closer, which lasted close to 20 minutes, was the one flaw in an otherwise excellent performance. Musicality was discarded as the band opted for sheer noise. The building tension in a maelstrom of sound bordered on cathartic for the first quarter-hour, but became masturbatory after running long enough to see everyone mostly lose interest.

Undaunted, as the wall of sound rose to a crescendo, Cox awkwardly climbed atop an amp, hunched over to avoid hitting his head on the low ceiling. His gangly limbs worked furiously as he shredded his guitar before he lept down to add another electric wail to the tumult. Spent, victorious, he raised his arms in triumph. For a guy who’s earned a slice of infamy for his onstage antics, Cox was genuinely tame, deadpan humor aside. But if that’s the price of Deerhunter putting on an excellent show, it’s a fair trade.

Related links:
News: Bradford Cox accidentally leaks Deerhunter, Atlas Sound material
Vacation Gallery and Boutique on MySpace
Bradford Cox announces new Atlas Sound album, Logos

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