Live Report: Deerhoof @ 9:30 Club

7 February 2010

Washington, D.C.

A new year of concertgoing kicked off this week with a band I’d been trying to see for a while. I started following Deerhoof from their 2005 album The Runners Four. It was around the time I was starting to really understand the whys and wherefores of independent music, and to me at the time, Deerhoof stood out as about the indie-est of them all. Especially on the 20-track Runners, gearshifting rhythms, indecipherable lyrics, and the Hello Kitty vocals of Satomi Matsuzaki combined into an ADD-like genre mash-up that I was sure would never lose its defiance against all things mainstream.

Five years and several buzz band half-lives later, I’m pleased to see Deerhoof’s audience is still growing, musical quirk fully intact. Chalk it up to an irrepressible flow of fresh material (Pitchfork seems tired of reviewing new Deerhoof albums at this point), as well as a reputation for ass-whoopin’ live performance.

That latter credential, which I was finally able to test this week at the 9:30 Club, is indeed well founded, and may be attributed to sheer musicianship. John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez are likely the best guitarists in indie rock: “twin killers” (to coin a phrase) so dexterous on their fretboards and so in command over their tone (Dietrich on a ringing hollow-body 12-string (!), Rodriguez on a Les Paul-ish 6-string, both through undersized amps with the house volume up up up) that they basically just plug in and shred, irony be damned. (And even look like they’re having fun doing it!)

Greg Saunier is the true lynchpin of the group, however. Directing that unique blend of control-slash-chaos for each song, he positively abused his trapkit during the set: I lost count of the broken drumsticks, and even caught Saunier tightening the head on his snare during a song!

And of course, hovering above the fray with her melodic chirp, there’s singer/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki. She may have been the Deerhoof member I enjoyed watching the most, as she led the adoring crowd (I heard more than one emphatic “I love you Satomi!!”) through pre-school-inspired hand signals during “Super Duper Rescue Heads!” and “Behold a Marvel in the Darkness” (both from the new Deerhoof vs. Evil).

An immensely entertaining set that leaned heavily on the new album, as well as 2008’s Offend Maggie (“The Tears and Music of Love”, “Fresh Born”). Was hoping to hear “Wrong Time Capsule” and “+81”, but Deerhoof hit what they did play so incredibly hard, I wasn’t exactly wanting for “Remember when…” discussion points on the train ride home. Let 2011 commence!


1 Response to “Live Report: Deerhoof @ 9:30 Club”

  1. February 24, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Very cool and cult band.

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