Take a Ride with Deerhoof

September 21st, 2011

Deerhoof – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 20, 2011

(Photo: Jared Levy)

To see Deerhoof live is to experience the effects of a roller coaster. Their songs propel forward, turn back and mercilessly pound against time signatures. A musical moment lingers and another speeds away. Guitar lines wind and bass notes raise, while the drums keep you fastened to the beat. And, like the most adrenaline-inducing rides, there is the fear of things falling apart; a trick manufactured by the clever designers. They’re aware of the human desire for safety, but deny the impulse, building and resolving tension in a careful balancing act. It’s dizzying in one sense, thrilling in another.

But sometimes roller coasters malfunction, and Tuesday night’s concert shared this likeness too. During one song, guitarist Ed Rodriguez’s high E string snapped. Greg Saunier, the drummer and founder of Deerhoof, appeared to have multiple instrumental difficulties. And, while lesser bands would let these snafus affect their performance, Deerhoof barely missed a beat. As Rodriguez replaced his string, Saunier ad-libbed a hilariously disjointed story to stall. His sense of humor and logic defying drum play stood out as the most impressive characteristics of the night. But, like a roller coaster, individual moments stand out less than the ride’s unforgettable excitement, and over a full set and two encores, Deerhoof created an extraordinary ride. —Jared Levy