(Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/beenwooed/)
Wow, what a show. I’m still reeling from Dan Deacon’s riotous gig at the ULU a full three days later. Bromst has been one of my favourite album’s of 2009 so far, but as it’s the only album of his I own, I’ve never really considered myself a fan of his work. It was only on a the back of a couple of effusive write-ups on his other UK shows that I decided to attend the night before the gig, so I guess I’m carrying the word-of-mouth beacon to anyone on the fence or un-informed.
If you have the opportunity, go to one of this man’s shows. Even if you’re not completely won over my his slightly absurd, avant-garde electro-noise-pop, I guarantee you will have an amazing time. Look at all those smiley happy people in the picture above!
Without spoiling it to much, his shows are a heady combination of traditional gig format, cult gathering – only reinforced by the white jump-suits that Deacon and his ‘Wham City’ ensemble’ are uniformly kitted out in – and drama workshop style audience participation. There’s dance-offs, touchy-feely warm-up exercises, excitable deaconites wearing exotic garments on their heads and great crowd banter. If, like me, you often feel that gigs can be a little sterile and can lack that communication that can make the artist on stage come alive, then Dan Deacon’s shows are for you.
Being an artist that has been predominantly hyped – on these shores at least – via Pitchfork and performing in a venue slap-bang in the heart of the London student community, equal distance between UCL, the British Library, Senate House Library, SOAS and numerous smaller colleges and places of learning, the gig was filled with young hipster types. The kind of hipsters who are usually very self-aware, apathetic and generally ‘meh’ about everything, which makes the cultish adherence Dan Deacon inspires in his show to make these usually vapid, reserved types to throw themselves around a small, sweaty venue like they were at a primary school disco all the more remarkable.
Gigs in the dance/electro genre can often be a bit dull to watch, with the musicians hunched over a laptop or any other instrument that requires a stoical level of concentration, but Deacon was a consummate performer as well as musician. No bullshitty, pre-arranged encores either, which was a breath of fresh air, he said when they were done and then hung around the front of the stage a while after shaking hands (including mine!) and posing for photographs with adoring fans. A true gentleman.
It’s been quite a while that I’ve grinned, laughed, sweated, moshed or danced so much at a gig. By the close I had that wonderful feeling of shared euphoria that only live music can give you. If by the close you’re not grinning inanely at complete strangers, your clothes caked in your own sweat and that of others and wondering if life gets any better, then you’re probably doing it wrong.
The music wasn’t the greatest, the sound was muddy at times but I’m hard stretched to think of a better example of what a gig should be. Riotous, sweaty, vaguely life-affirming, unpretentious, exciting and well, fun.