A Little Bit Weird, a Little Bit Charming and Highly Entertaining

April 4th, 2013

Darwin Deez – The Bowery Ballroom – April 3, 2013

The lights dimmed, the crowd cheered and the speakers blasted Rich Boy’s “Throw Some D’s” as Darwin Deez, the energetic pop band fronted by the guitarist of the same name, took the Bowery Ballroom stage last night. I explained to my friend, a causal concertgoer, that it’s become a trend for indie bands to kick off the night with a hip-hop track before beginning their set. However, this NYC band surprised me—instead of immediately picking up their instruments, they launched into a goofy choreographed dance before striking their first chord. It was a fun way to begin the show, and they repeated the tactic throughout the night, pausing every few songs to line up center stage and display their dancing skills (or lack thereof).

During one break, Deez announced a special guest: “Ladies and gentlemen, Willow Smith!” For a moment, it seemed as if anything was possible and Smith might actually come out to whip her hair. But another tween with long, poofy hair emerged. Deez gave her a nod, and she twisted her head violently, imitating that infamous video. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been so surprised by the band’s delightful quirks, which came off as anything but a gimmick. Deez’s music is the aforementioned pop and goof all rolled into one distinct package, and I can’t imagine it any other way.

He’s built a loyal following by exploiting his looks (really, his locks) and his quirkiness, but even more so by displaying a keen ability to write a great pop song. And he and his band put on a great live show. The night flowed effortlessly as Deez played fan favorites like “Radar Detector” and “Constellations,” and the set hinted at some of the guitarist’s undoubtedly disparate influences, of which I can only venture a guess: the Strokes, Prince and some of that hip-hop he played. Is the band a little weird? Surely. But it’s charming and totally Darwin Deez. He’s created a sound, an aesthetic and a personality that’s all his own, in a highly entertaining way. —Alex Kapelman