The music that Deerhoof plays can only be described in one way—western music terrorism. But do not be discouraged; we’re talking productive destruction here. By disguising itself within ever-so-common stripped-down pop-rock instrumentation, (drums, bass, two guitars, vocals) Deerhoof creates an expectation that each of its records completely fucks upsand defies. For the last 16 years, the band has relied heavily on peculiar melodies, seemingly random forms, irregular time signatures and a rebellious punk attitude towards redefining the boundaries of right and wrong when it comes to music, resulting in a truly unique experience. Last night in Brooklyn, fans old and new packed the standing room only Europa Night Club to the brim with the expectation that they would witness this destructive take on pop music.
The set opened by screening a black and white film depicting heads exploding off the bodies of people going about their ordinary routines which was accompanied by “The Merry Barracks” off the band’s newest album, Deerhoof vs. Evil. The band took stage immediately after, opening with the classic “Dummy Discards A Heart” off Apple O’ and continuing the set with both new and old material.
It took a song or two for the group to get warmed up but once ready the band members sounded as tight together as they do in the studio. The space found in Deerhoof’s sound provides the perfect exposure for each musicians’ ability. Each instrument was perfectly audible and identifiable without getting in the way of any other instrument—unbelievable, considering the constant drum fills and high-energy shredding by Greg Saunier on his oversimplified three-piece drum kit. The doubling of eclectic guitars worked especially well as Ed Rodriguez’s counter lines supported the ripping solos by John Dieterich, who remained committed to his twelve-string for the duration of the set.
An encore included a cover of the Ramone’s “Pinhead” and “The Perfect Me” off Deerhoof’s Friend Opportunity. But the highlight of the night may have been just after midnight when it was announced that it was Japanese frontwoman Satomi Matsuzaki’s birthday and the entire venue sang “Happy Birthday” as she blew out the candles on her cake while pretending to be a cat. Outfitted with a band of paint and glitter streaking across her eyes, it was clear that Satomi and the rest of Deerhoof were having as much fun as anyone else at Europa last night.
It’s always refreshing to see a band with a great deal of talent and success get onstage and focus on the music rather than dicking around like rock stars. Deerhoof did just that. The lighting was modest and stage antics were motivated only by the band’s pure enthusiasm. Deerhoof at Europa was no spectacle—just a great environment to hear brilliant music—which is exactly what fans wnated. Unfortunately, every member of the audience left the concert disappointed because no one was able to fit Satomi—the cutest vocalist in the world—into their pocket to take home.