February 16, 2010

Dynamic Dan Deacon

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The audience’s ears were ringing for hours on end, shirts drenched in sweat, and bodies sore from being crushed, yet seeing Dan Deacon made it all worth it. On Sunday night, the Baltimore native musician played at Castaways, with local DJs Glitter Monks and the quirky magician, Michael Staley. Even though Deacon was forced to cancel the final dates of his last tour, one of them being at Ithaca College, because of back problems, he seemed good as new as he threw a Valentine’s Day/President’s Day Eve extravaganza.

Immediately upon entering the concert, the juxtaposition of Ithaca and Baltimore culture was noticeable. Flannel-and beanie-wearing hipsters populated the small, reggae poster-covered room. Synthesizers and other fancy electronics were around the old, grimy stage. Deacon himself even sported a poncho.

First up was the past-his-prime magician, Michael Staley. No one anticipated his presence at all. Even as he went up to the stage and introduced himself, many people in the crowd doubting his abilities. However, after performing several tricks, such as pouring water from a bottomless pitcher, the crowd was quickly won over.

Next up was the Ithaca College electronic duo, Glitter Monks. Armed with only a laptop and DJ controller, the two DJs produced music that was reminiscent of 80’s techno and groups such as Justice and Daft Punk. They overlapped heavy beats with funk inspired synth and bass lines. Fans seemed to be flailing their bodies carelessly to the beat. After turning on a few strobe lights, everyone rushed up close to the band and the party truly started. The band did something special for Valentine’s Day as they used a sample of someone saying, “All I Want to Do is Give My Love to You.” Once the group’s set ended, everyone was energized and ready for Deacon to play. Staley came back for another set of magic tricks and further intensified everyone’s eagerness for Deacon to start.

Finally the legend himself arrived on stage, Dan Deacon. Deacon is the epitome of the Baltimore music scene. He used a wide array of sounds to create his music. Whether it is a xylophone, a sine wave, or a sample of Woody Woodpecker laughing, Deacon never failed to surprise his listeners with interesting noises. However, nothing is more astounding than Deacon’s voice. He ran his microphone through a vocoder that made him sound like a high-pitched robot.

Deacon started off the concert with his typical antics as he led a countdown to his first song. However, he had everyone replace three with Ithaca, two with their favorite Lion King character, and one with the Lion King character they respect most. While this seemed totally nonsensical, it gave the audience a taste of what was to come for the rest of the show. Deacon even held a dance contest between the two sides of the room. Each side received its own name (“Team Uhh” and “Team Jesus Christ”) and faced off in a hilarious President’s Day themed battle (each team had to dance like certain presidents).

Deacon held the audience’s attention throughout the entire set. Even though he had the audience perform a series of exhausting dances and maneuvers, Deacon produced an energy that left everyone pumped and excited for each song. Even at the end of the night, when Deacon played “Wham City,” a 12 minute electronic epic, people were still on their toes and yearning for more music.

It is apparent that Deacon’s inspiring and warm music reflect his own personality. While he is not as popular as Lady Gaga or Jay-Z, Deacon is a true star and someone to watch out for in years to come.

Original Author: Matt Becker