Photos courtesy of Charles Steinberg | charlesosteinberg.com
Tag Archives: Deerhunter
Lotus Plaza – Mercury Lounge – July 18, 2012
It’s obvious, but I’ll write it anyway: What I hear is not what you hear. My ears are different than yours. Recently, I’ve felt a small pressurized balloon squeeze against my right cochlea. I pinch my nose and blow out through my ears to clear the tubes. I get a pop, crackle and then nothing. It stays the same. So, what I’m about to tell you is what I heard.
Live, Lotus Plaza is dense. It doesn’t necessarily follow from the latest album, Spooky Action at a Distance. On it, Lockett Pundt, guitarist for Deerhunter and project manager of Lotus Plaza, balances vocal melodies and guitar work. The result is a somewhat heavy, often breezy set of songs, kissing cousins with Real Estate’s surf-rock update. That was not so much the case live. From the wailing guitar bends on show-opener “White Galactic One” onward, the four-man stage crew supporting Lotus Plaza buried Pundt’s vocals in a downpour of instrumentation. Gone was the light touch that gave Spooky Action at a Distance a summer-soaked feel—in its place was a broad sonic singularity.
A blanket of sound covered the audience by the time the band got to “Strangers.” I felt reverberations at the edge of my skin and on the back of my head. And while a machine-gun cadence of drums periodically peaked out of the mix, the music echoed the lighting: a soft red glow, which left the room mostly dark but with a hint of visibility. My mind wandered to visions of fields and ocean, which seemed like the point. If shoegaze, a working title for Lotus Plaza’s brand of music, is taken literally, you look down and get lost in your thoughts and the floor. You’re locked into a rhythm, so your head starts to bob. It is loud, hypnotic music for daydreamers. And it sounded good to me. —Jared Levy
Deerhunter – August 22 – Webster Hall
Last night Deerhunter reminded me how much a great rock and roll show can raise one’s spirits and showed why they are capable of selling out two nights at Webster Hall. The group, Bradford Cox (lead vocals and guitar), Josh Bauver (bass), Lockett Pundt (guitar) and Moses Archuleta (drums), appeared almost sheepish onstage, kind of in an “all right, let’s do this” casual sort of way, before melting into the first song of the night, the melodic and dreamy “Basement Scene” off 2010’s Halcyon Digest.
Each song effortlessly melded into the next. It was often just purely instrumental, a jam if you will. But unlike jams that can be perceived as annoying or pretentious or oh, please, just make it end, these never grew old because Deerhunter is just so damn sonically good. The four-piece mainly stuck with tunes from their newest album, the critically praised Halcyon Digest. Although the disc is known for its absence in sound, Deerhunter rocked it loud and clear last night. The melancholy “Helicopter,” a flowing tribute to the tragic Dennis Hopper story of a young male prostitute, held a light feel while marked in sadness. “Memory Boy,” a song with a when-a-house-is-not-a-home theme, proved to be very catchy, as did the hopeful “Don’t Cry.”
Perhaps best described as “psych-pop,” Deerhunter’s music definitely left the audience in a daze while still having a fetching airy quality. Cox blamed the jet lag for making everything feel like a giant hallucination but it felt that way to those in the crowd as well, and I am fairly certain not everyone present had been flying around the world. Cox’s voice ranged from crystal clear to a calm drone and everything in between. He sang with conviction and charisma, giving the lyrics distinct meaning. Bauver, Pundt and Archuleta pounded away on their given instruments so fluently and nonchalantly as if their instruments were part of them. Be warned and be saddened if you weren’t lucky enough to attend last night’s or tonight’s Deerhunter show at Webster Hall for they regrettably announced that although they love playing in New York City, it might be awhile before they return. —Kristen Ferreira
Deerhunter – Webster Hall – October 15, 2010
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
Atlas Sound – Music Hall of Williamsburg – October 21, 2009
“The show’s completely off the rails now,” joked Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox, performing last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg as his solo side project, Atlas Sound. Somehow a simple broken guitar string had brought the set to a standstill, initiating a chain reaction of antics: Inexplicable song requests from the crowd (“Rock Around the Clock,” “Monster Mash”), a series of groan-inducing jokes and Cox’s decision to strike a few poses for all the hungry photographers in the crowd eager to snap away. “This is my socially conscious pose,” said Cox, strumming some Dylan chords and staring introspectively at the ceiling.
“Did you think it was pretty professional before all that shit happened?” Cox later inquired. Come to think of it, Atlas Sound’s set had been pretty professional up to that point. Cox (wearing a very sensible brown suit) had started the show with a haunting version of “My Halo” from Atlas Sound’s newest album, Logos (just released on Tuesday), his voice strong and stark, accompanied simply by keyboard. Joined shortly thereafter by his backing band, Atlas Sound played meticulous renditions of songs like “Walkabout” and “Sheila,” easily recreating the ethereal moments within their spacey, densely layered psych-shoegaze.
Later on, Cox partially chalked his “derailment” up to nerves—noting that the retro space-pop masters Broadcast, who had performed a transfixing opening set accompanied by trippy 1960s-era video art, were a tough act to follow. Though they were impressive, could Cox truly have such shakable confidence? After all, when he returned solo for an encore—creating a looped guitar and harmonica sample, walking around the stage as he played both guitar and drums, and timing his singing between different mikes—Bradford Cox was able to personally embody Atlas Sound. It was a complete song, nearly effortless. For moments like this, hopefully Cox will come to give himself more credit. I must say, when he was able to focus, it was certainly quite professional. —Alena Kastin