September 29, 2011

Deerhoof Dazzles at the Haunt

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I used to listen to Deerhoof all the time a few years ago. I talked about the band to people whom I wanted to impress like they were a well guarded secret because I thought that I was a cool guy and that Deerhoof was an impressive band to know about. For a few days after Deerhoof’s 2008 Album, Offend Maggie came out, I was parading around my Donlon room, blasting it and feeling proud of myself for listening to music that wasn’t just any regular old stuff. If a passerby happened to witness my parading, I would look at him and say something like, “Oh, this music? It’s a band I know called Deerhoof, yeah, they’re kind of weird.” Since then, I have become less of a goody-goody about my musical taste. But when I heard that Deerhoof was coming to The Haunt, I had to go find out if I had been right for being so proud of them at the beginning of my college career. To my surprise, I was blown away when they came out on stage and were even more awesome than I used to imagine they were. Their presence on stage was crazy but also genuine and inviting. They put the audience in a state of awe that I hadn’t seen outside of movies about cool concerts.

Deerhoof comprises four musicians: Satomi Matsuzaki, the lead vocalist and guitarist, is a tiny, flower-dress-wearing Japanese woman. Guitarist Ed Rodriguez looks like a glam rock caricature of Cornell Art Department Chair Professor Iftikhar Dadi. Guitarist John Dieterich and drummer Greg Saunier both look average enough to be anybody’s friend’s hipster roommates. The comical contrast between the band members’ appearances was enough to make most of the crowd smile in admiration from the very beginning of the show, and Deerhoof made those smiles wider by acting like they were having as much fun at their show as the audience was.

The band dove right into their hard-hitting set. All their songs were fun and energetic, with the unique pairing of powerful droning rock music and Matsuzaki’s traditional sounding Japanese vocals. Saunier captained every song from behind his drum kit, which only contained a snare, high hat and bass. He made full use of his equipment, frantically striking the sides of his snare and sometimes playing his bass with his drumsticks instead of his pedal. It was clear that Deerhoof was working hard and having a great time during every song they played, which was a rare feeling to get during an alternative rock concert, and this made me devote more energy to being a good audience member.

Every song was somewhat similar. Most songs started off catchy and poppy and then spiraled out of control as the band wildly strummed their guitars while staggering around the stage. There was enough variety for the audience to get excited about specific songs and remain satisfied. The only major sound change the band made during their set was during a Beck cover when Saunier replaced Matsuzaki as vocalist and she took his place as drummer. The show went by extremely fast, and after the encore the majority of the crowd remained, pounding on the stage, demanding a second encore until Dieterich came out, thanked the audience and explained that they simply weren’t allowed to play one.

The atmosphere at the concert was energetic. The large crowd — mostly smug-looking Ithacans — looked positively blissful once the music started. Most of them were grinning like I was, nodding their heads and laughing to each other, as if to say, “These guys are great!” There was not much full-on dancing except  amongst the older members of the crowd.  The sound was loud enough for me to really feel the music and clear enough for me to know what was going on. The concert was great overall. It was probably the most genuinely enjoyable small rock concert I have been to at Cornell.

There are only three stops left on Deerhoof’s current tour, but based on my experience at The Haunt, I highly recommend that you go see a Deerhoof concert as soon as you can. It will be fun and oddly satisfying.

Original Author: cody ernst