Words by: Nick Todaro | Images by: Josh Jarrett
Deerhunter :: 03.21.10 :: Cat's Cradle :: Carrboro, NC
When a band like Deerhunter decides to take on the role of supporting act for a big name band like Spoon, the regular elements of their live show become constrained to appeal to a broader audience and succumb to time limitations. That's why, in many cases, these bands decide to do a one-off headlining gig to blow off such restrictions and have some fun. On a cloudy Sunday night in Carrboro, NC, Bradford Cox and company decided to take a break from their opening gig with Spoon and put on a show of their own.
The evening's opening acts were local and provided a taste of Carrboro's music scene. Free Electric State and Schooner both had the crowd in a pleasant mood with their takes on the indie genre. As the latter concluded their set with a powerfully thick instrumental breakdown, their hometown audience began crowding the front stage area for a spot up close to the headliner.
One of these crowd members, a lanky young man with dark, shaggy hair, progressed his way to the front row holding a head of cabbage with four raw hotdogs stuck in its leaves at various angles. "I must give my present to Bradford," shouted the giddy fellow as he took his spot front and center and plopped the outré gift directly in front of Cox's microphone stand.
Not long after, Deerhunter took the stage with the title track from 2007's Cryptograms. Quickly, the venue became an epicenter for an explosion of pulsating percussion and disintegrating guitars. Bradford Cox's wraithlike silhouette whimpered out the concluding lines of the song, "My eyes were blurred/ There was no sound/ There was no sound," as the elements of the performance continued to amalgamate then fade out.
Following this electrifying opener were two new songs, one of which featured lead vocals by guitarist Lockett Pundt. Much like the rest of their catalogue - and even most of Cox's Atlas Sound side project - a bright layer of ambience immersed from the band's tightly knit blend of indie rock. Pundt's primary singing was a new effort for the band, and it kept the sound fresh while maintaining lots of commotion and tempo changes.
"Those were two new songs and this is an old one," declared Cox as the group went into Microcastle favorite "Never Stops" before diving back into another Cryptogram crowd pleaser "Hazel St." During its breakdown, the manipulation of the song's original structure once again identified Deerhunter as one of the front-runners in indie music. After all, any band that takes songs that are merely three years old and creates entirely new dimensions to them earns such a title. The band also mastered a similar experience with "Little Kids."
Wanting to try out more new material, the quartet tested "Revival" to an accepting crowd. Much like tracks off of their most recent release, Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP, the material mixed the post-punk, art rock and experimental genres for a completely unique sound. "Nothing Ever Happened" and "Microcastle" both received a warm reception, as did the dancey b-side "Operation."
| Bradford Cox :: 03.21.10 :: Carrboro, NC|
Deciding to stick to the more avant-garde side of their group personality, the b-side to Microcastles' "Calvary Scars," "Calvary Scars II/Aux Out" surprisingly commenced. During its performance, a younger fan - a boy around 11-12 years-old wearing a Grizzly Bear shirt - was brought up to play tambourine. As the song progressed, bassist Josh Fauver decided to set aside his instrument and hoist the youngster up on his shoulders. Setting the boy down, he took him off-stage while the remaining three members, with Cox now on synthesizer, jammed out the rest of the song.
Suddenly, empty beer cans began flying from the backstage area. Confused, Cox climbed on top of his amplifier to raise his middle finger in the air, and the two perpetrators soon returned to their respective spots. Looking at Bradford, Fauver admitted, "I paid him to throw things at you." With a mischievous look in his eye, Cox asked the kid to come back onstage. He whipped out a $100 bill and proposed, "I will give you 100 dollars if you pull down Josh's pants." Laughing, the kid accepted his offer and Fauver reluctantly allowed himself to be embarrassed in front of the large audience. Lucky for him, and the crowd, he remembered to put on his boxers that day.
Gearing back into performance mode, "Agoraphobia" mesmerized the crowd with it gorgeous composition and eldritch lyrics:
Cover me, Cover me
Comfort me, Comfort me
I had a dream, no longer to be free
I want only to see, four walls made of concrete
Six by six enclosed, see me on video
Feed me twice a day, I want to fade away
As the other three band members walked off the stage for a break, Cox remained and picked at his guitar for a few extra measures. Thinking he should follow them before the encore, he propped his guitar on its stand, stepped in the direction of backstage, stopped, and came back to the mic. "Ya know, I don't really have to piss," proclaimed Cox, and Deerhunter returned to the stage to bang out "Fluorescent Grey" to close the night.
Ending the number with another sonic storm of experimentation, the band left eardrums pounding as the house lights came up. Adding to what was an already remarkable night, the band decided to head outside of the club to shake hands and sign autographs. Proving their musical chops, and backing it up with a humble attitude toward their fans, these guys deserve to one day establish themselves as a prominent force in the world of live performances.
Deerhunter :: 03.21.10 :: Cat's Cradle :: Carrboro, NC
Cryptograms, New Song, New Song, Never Stops, Hazel St., Little Kids, New Song (Revival), Nothing Ever Happened, Microcastle, Operation, Calvary Scars II/Aux Out, Intro > Agoraphobia
E: Fluorescent Grey
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