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Dreamy Music, Smoky Night

October 18th, 2010

Deerhunter – Webster Hall – October 15, 2010

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Webster Hall welcomed Deerhunter and their prolific, dreamy psych rock back to town with a sold-out show this past Friday night, and an overzealous smoke machine clouded the venue in a fitting atmospheric haze. Frontman Bradford Cox greeted us briefly before the band opened with “Desire Lines,” a track from their new album, Halcyon Digest, in which Cox defers lead vocals to guitarist Lockett Pundt. In many ways, the live-Deerhunter experience is not entirely different from the personal-Deerhunter listening experience in bedrooms/headphones/car stereos: The songs are intense and hypnotic, lending a similar heady, insular vibe to the shows. Yet, of course, this doesn’t discount the many worthwhile reasons to experience the band in the flesh.

Deerhunter clearly have fun stretching the limits of their songs when they perform, experimenting with loops and effects, getting cozy in feedback and giving Cox room to extend his noodling guitar solos for seemingly as long as he pleases. By the end of “Desire Lines,” the drums began to fade in and out of the sound mix, their pounding rhythm at times loud and assertive and moments later a soft flutter in the background—a pleasingly disorienting effect as the rest of the band jammed in the forefront.

The new disc’s other material was also well received, with the upbeat, harmonica-heavy “Memory Boy” and the slow-burning “Helicopter” fitting in well with older favorites “Little Kids,” “Nothing Ever Happened” and “Never Stops.” For their encore, Deerhunter played a somewhat dichotomous duo of songs—Halcyon Digest’s Everly Brothers-inspired “Basement Scene” alongside “Fluorescent Grey” (a song from the EP of the same name), one of the band’s more eerie numbers—culminating in a repetition of very loud, crashing chords. As the song’s last echoes faded, the house lights came up, leaving the crowd to snap out of their mesmerized Deerhunter headspace as the smoke began to clear. —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Jennifer Macchiarelli | www.jennylow.com