When you want to see a little Japanese lady signal to you in semaphore while the band around her goes absolutely crazy, then garage grunge power group Deerhoof is the band for you! I saw them at La Tulipe last Friday during PopMontreal with a few friends.
One of my friends Anna, who showed up to get some Deerhoof “merch” ( – but unfortunately there was none being sold at the POP stand), had decorated her fingernails quite impressively in Deerhoof-style, covering most of their albums and characters – even (my personal favorite,) the bloody fruit man from the Milkman album cover. I was so impressed by the tiny crafting ability and her ability to work in such small spaces.
But aside from the nails that I just could stop looking at, I was really taken aback by Deerhoof’s performance once they got on stage, not because I was shocked or surprised – like I didn’t know that they were an amazing band – but I realized now more than ever that the band is made up of escaped lunatics! They are a most talented group of young musicians, but they are so atypical, anti-music, they recreate their own order out of chaos, all the while harboring their own version of timing and meter.
Listening to Deerhoof’s insane anachronistic drum beats, you can’t but want to move around but this being a Montreal audience, I chose to stand there motionless with my arms folded. Deefhoof knows how to rock out while being out of time, purposely playing with meter -regardless of the tangent, the drummer; insane as he is, is able to keep the disarray together. And the at some point during a Deerhoof concert, emerges a beautifully written and fully composed song, executed perfectly.
The live show really shows why Deerhoof is so special. They are able to bring the disarray they create back to a sensual place , where Satomi Matsuzaki’s voice can shine and bring tremendous beauty to the music when the dust of cacophony settles we are left with a beautiful sunrise, to use the metaphor. Her voice brings order where there once was only chaos (I always wanted to say that!). And this flux between the chaos of the drums and the order of the singing is what makes Deerhoof such a pleasure to experience.
Aside from the luscious Japanees girl, bopping to non-sequential time and the semi-sex appeal of escape psyche-ward patients, the band has such tremendous talent, that it’s hard to look away when they take the stage.
Schopenhauer once described music as like a kind of secret language of the universe attempting to convey truth – or something like that – and if one were to hear the real meaning of truth, in words, it would be as nonsensical as speaking in tongues. This is how I feel when listening to Deerhoof, and this comment might also explain why I didn’t understand a single word of banter from the drummer the entire show. He was speaking French, or at least attempting to between songs, but it was nonsensical.
According to Greg Saunier this was the second time they played at La Tulipe , but the first time in Montreal? I don’t know what that means? Where they here only in spirit before in Montreal? Or were they on drugs?
During the night they played were mostly new material, although they did play some of their old repertoire from Apple O’, Milk Man, Green Cosmos, and The Runners Four. Both the guitarists were playing 12-string guitars, for some apparently “cool” reason. My highlight was when they played the time travel opus “Wrong Time Capsule” and “Panda Panda Panda.” With the 12 strings, that was just magical! The new guitarist, who just recently joined to make Deerhoof once again a four piece, really rocked and really added to the intensity of their harder material. I wish I could just pick up a 12 string like that!
If you have a chance check them out: