A Noisy, Life-Affirming TriumphSeptember 18th, 2012
Deerhoof – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 17, 2012
Deerhoof makes a ruckus. There is no denying it. If you forego earplugs (which, come on, you should) it’s inevitable that your ears will start ringing a few songs into their show. On his lonesome, drummer Greg Saunier’s snare hits strike the deepest parts of the inner ear. But together with singer and bassist Satomi Matsuzaki, guitarist John Dieterich and guitarist Ed Rodriguez, the group creates a Street Fighter sonic boom—a full-on assault on the senses. And the energy behind their play is a double-shot espresso on a Monday night: a highly caffeinated treat with enough punch to power you through the week. If they don’t raise your heart rate, you should be checked to see if you have a pulse.
It is New York City’s luck that Deerhoof chose us for the start of their tour behind new album Breakup Song (which is kind of like if Elliott Smith had put out an LP called Fight for Your Right to Party). In one of Saunier’s moments of quirky stage banter, in which he knelt down to speak into Matsuzaki’s microphone, about two feet shorter than him, he mentioned the band’s love for playing here. And if the set list and two encores were any indication, New York City and Deerhoof have a symbiotic relationship: They give heaping spoonfuls of the favorites and we lose our shit.
For the final song, “Basketball Ball Get Your Groove Back,” Matsuzaki jumped, danced and, as much as she could, strutted around the stage, pointing the microphone toward the front row to respond with “OK!” in the chorus. The tune, like the band, is an odd pairing: a tiny Japanese woman doing bunny kicks while evoking a game for strong composed athletes. But Deerhoof is not about deep analysis or symbolic continuity. No, Deerhoof is the sound of a thousand people jumping in the air and shouting for joy. It is a noisy, life-affirming triumph. —Jared Levy