Deerhunter played Whelans last night. I suppose, if yours was a generally systemic view of history, you’d say that this is because Deerhunter always play in Ireland. It’s just what they do, like cats eat mice and clouds appear on August days in Dublin. Up until yesterday, in fact, I wouldn’t have even counted myself among the ranks of Deerhunter listeners, and I’d still seen them live before.
I wasn’t a fan the last time I saw them, rendered conventional by High Places on one side of them and Dan Deacon on the other at Foggy Fest 2008. However, (and I suppose this some sort of testament to the fact that if you just tour all the time you will eventually grow your fanbase) the combination of People of Discerning Taste continuing to like them, the fact that I haven’t seen enough live music this summer and the presence of Angkorwat in support led me to part with seventeen euro and go see the Indie Rock Musician You Would Least Like To Be Stranded On A Desert Island With perform.
It was good.
It’s hard to like Bradford Cox. Come on, admit it. His Day Trippin‘ on Pitchfork was excellent entertainment but Bradford, getting uncomfortably close to No Age and playing a physically repulsive improvised set with Jay Reatard and King Khan, didn’t exactly win hearts. Weird dude.
He also dissed Vampire Weekend as “safe” indie rock in an interview with Analogue, and that always rang false with me. How are the guys who are using full-on baroque string parts and kwassa kwassa and soukous safer than the four-piece rock band who get a bit noisy sometimes and sing vague songs? For a while Deerhunter have been, in my head, the locus of “indie rock”, and although the receding I’m-not-a-hipster-he/she-is logic applies here, it was strange that Bradford would think otherwise, of his day job anyway.
It doesn’t matter though, really. Once you get out of the realms of major label bollocks, “safe” is a bit of a nonsense term, and why am I holding Deerhunter underwater so Vampire Weekend can swim? I listened to Microcastle twice yesterday afternoon and enjoyed it. I went to the gig. I enjoyed it.
Initially it felt like the Sunday night gig that it was. “I can tell you guys have had Sunday roasts and fermented liquor”. Deerhunter went about the creation of their unsettled sub-duvet thing and notes of stuff I hadn’t noticed before came out. 80s REM, for example, which isn’t a shock in retrospect for an Athens, Georgia band. There’s something very US 80s college rock about the snappy drums and the one-strummed one-picked guitars in general, actually. I suppose you don’t need me theorising Deerhunter at this point, but I’m genuinely still at entry point.
Nothing Ever Happened was a highlight.
Incidentally, if you’re ever at Whelans for a gig, you don’t need to try to mentally videotape your experience because you may rest assured that Handjob Films is upstairs doing a better job than you ever could.
By the time the encore came around, it was hard not to be on Deerhunter’s side, following along with a tour-worn four-piece locked in step on every move. Agoraphobia, Microcastle’s beautifully balmy welcoming point, was probably the best of the night, even coming as it did after Bradford’s request that everyone describe the walls of their teenage bedroom while he did interpretive drumming.
“I wanted to try something. It failed.”
“Fuck trying to talk to you people.”
If you weren’t at Pukkelpop with my friends, or at Green Man watching Grizzly Bear, then there were worse places to spend your Sunday night.
(oh by the way, Angkorwat supported and she was excellent, visuals and all. This is all the write-up you get for taunting me about blogging, Niamh.)