Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dan Deacon

I went to see Dan Deacon a week ago, at what turned out to be his last show before blowing out his back. I pretty much hated the show. Everyone else seemed to be enjoying it. That’s always sort of interesting, to be the only person who doesn’t like something that everyone else is clearly into. But it might have been an age thing. Everyone else looked like 20 or under. As my friend Bill Meyer put it: “There comes a time when you can’t go to college parties anymore. It may not be the end of college, but it will happen.”

Anyway, I wasn’t going to write about it, especially when I found out that he’d finished the show in terrible pain from sciatica and wasn’t going to do anymore for a while. It seemed churlish and cranky, and hell, I go to shows to have fun.

But I thought maybe, just on my blog, I’d make a couple of observations about the show.

First of all, Dan Deacon is a very serious musical guy, with some sort of advanced academic degree in composition. I liked Bromst. Everyone told me that he was better live.

Actually, he’s exactly the same live, in musical terms. The music is all recorded. He doesn’t play it. He mostly plays the crowd.

Which means that, for the first ten minutes of the show, we had this weird sort of Maoist aerobics class, where everyone is encouraged to express their uniqueness by making the exact same gestures: one finger up in the air, finger pointed down, knees bent, both arms up in the air…put your right hand in and shake it all about etc. There is going to be a countdown, how exciting! We are all directed to shout out the names of seven presidents not on US currency. Someone suggests Martin Van Buren. Turns out he’s on the $1000. Fuck Van Buren, says Deacon. It is not something you generally hear at rock shows.

Then it turns a little ugly as we are all directed to point at someone who is not participating. That’s right. There’s a penalty for not having a good time. (I have been participating up until this point, and have decided to yell out William Howard Taft when the time comes, but I’m not doing this.)

And then the music starts, from somewhere in the middle of the throng, and it sounds just like Bromst. Exactly like Bromst. Except the speakers aren’t very good and they’re turned way, way, way up.

And that sort of sets the pattern. There are long gimmicky intervals of audience participation and short blasts of recorded music. The crowd is very pleased with itself, as you get closer to Deacon (who is down on the floor and, hence, invisible to all but the first three rows of kids) more and more frantically into whatever it is that they are doing. On the fringes, where I have migrated after getting a mouthful of someone’s afro (you know the people who say “excuse me” and shove you out of the way so they can stand EXACTLY WHERE YOU WERE STANDING? There were a lot of them there.), people look bemused, puzzled, eventually bored. Everyone says about Deacon, “Oh you really have to be there.” But you really have to be in the first five rows.

So, I left, which is the main reason I couldn’t really write about the show. I can’t remember the last time I left a show because I was bored. It’s been a really long time.

But I did want to give points to Nuclear Power Pants, who also had a fairly high gimmick-to-music ratio, but at least their gimmick was wearing giant shark masks.

I have some photos, but my connection is so slow today, they're not going through.


Ian said...

Well, I would hate that show with a burning passion (point out someone who isn't participating? are you fucking kidding?). And it saddens me to hear that people with no concert etiquette are everywhere - I've stopped letting people through at some concerts, because I'm sick of wind up ten feet behind where I started. You want to get a spot at the front? SHOW UP EARLIER.

Basically I hate people.

jenniferpkelly said...

I was just surprised because everyone I talked to beforehand told me how great he was.

Since I went, though, I've run into a lot more people who aren't into it.

I still like his albums, and I hope he feels better. I never heard of a rocker getting sciatica before but runners get it all the time and it sucks.