Sympathetic Stupid

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Deerhoof @ Northcote Social Club

My Disco, the support, were really quite good. Three-piece, guitar, bass and drums, with more energy than their stage gear could stand up to. The kit fell apart multiple times - not surprising with the way the drummer was hitting it. He's basically a human drum machine, but more flexible, playing really interesting rock-disco beats at breakneck pace. Interesting because there's very little 4, some 3, some 5, even a couple of bars of 11, I think, without faltering. While I'm not a huge fan of the monotonal, shouted vocal thing, it works when you've got the vitality of these guys.

Then, the Canadians. Well, let me get the disappointment out of the way first - they didn't play O'Reilly, Former Underdog.

That said, however, it was a pretty amazing show. Deerhoof don't so much play their songs as play near their songs. It feels something like driving with an expert rally driver around a snowy, narrow track. At first it's scary and new, always threatening to careen out-of-control headlong into a tree, as Greg's drums disappear over the hill with no sign of coming back, or John takes his guitar into dark places you don't recognise and can't see a way out of.

But, after a while, the scary feeling becomes exhilarating. You learn to trust that they know what they're doing and that everything's going to be fine, and settle in to enjoy the rush.

They played bits of the last three albums, as far as I could tell, possibly with some new stuff. It was all different to the recorded versions, but not unrecognisably so, and in fact gives a better idea of what they're going for. There's always someone keeping the train on the tracks, whether it's Greg's down-the-line drumming, Chris or Satomi on bass or rhythm, or John playing an uncharacteristically steady guitar part. And most of all, it always stays musical (something the support missed on a couple of occasions).

And, wow, Satomi's tiny!