Deerhoof – Live in Seattle

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Hoof Closeup

Neumo’s
Seattle WA
February 1, 2007
w/ Black and Black
and Leti Angel

What’s up with opening bands? I mean seriously: where do they find these people? Here I am, Thursday night, minding my own business, hanging out and waiting for Deerhoof to play. I had already endured the opener’s thirty minutes when these two girls who might be in high school and this guy who might be (and is) in the band Phantom Planet come out onto the stage. And the way they’re angular and attractive and solemn, well it’s evident that something strange is brewin’. I knew it – the crowd knew – we all knew it like animals know it when a forest is gonna burn down; we knew it but we really didn’t know what it meant. There was a VIP space on the balcony at Neumo’s this night, and there were people eating sushi, and you couldn’t go into this area unless you knew something. Something was up, oh yeah. And then I heard the people behind me mention it and the pieces fell together and it all made perfect sense: Black Black was from LA!

Well so there was a band before Black Black; the highlight of their set had to be the lead singer giving a double thumbs down to “war, war, war…”. Halfway through his monosyllabic chant I look over to my friend Bill and I knew we are sharing an identical epiphany: this war is really fucking bad! I mean, what with my day-to-day grind, my workin’ for the weekend, it had completely slipped my mind, but this war – man – this war is awful! While the lead-singer is deconstructing the act of playing the guitar from underneath his shiny helmet of hair, I stand in grim contemplation of the awfulness of the war in Iraq. Kudos, band I don’t remember the name of, for using your power for good and not evil. Because of your stripped-down-but-brimming-with-emotion indie three-piece rock songs the world is better place!

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Wolf scat with deer hoof

So back to Black Black, the second band to play this evening. Get this: they didn’t have a setlist. You heard me. Of all the attacks I could mount against them, I think that their lack of setlisting might be their most heinous offense. Certainly a band – no matter how cutesy or LA-ey – is expected to do some things. For example (this is hypothetical), the guitarist is not allowed to show up fifteen minutes late “because the bridge was up.” The keyboardist is not allowed to bring his little daughter up on stage because his girlfriend was “outta town for the weekend”. And the members of the band (this is real) are not allowed to verify the song being played into the microphone, “just to make sure.” What, were there a shortage of napkins at the bar? Coasters? Was there not a magazine sitting idle on some table-top in the green room? Or maybe they had the paper, but for some inexplicable reason, no one in the entire bar had a writing utensil. Maybe that was it. Maybe the roadies, the groupies, the bartenders, the bouncers, the family, the friends, the fans, the smokers standing outside the building just plain didn’t have a pen on them. If this was the case, then it is perfectly understandable that you would not have a set-list.

If you plan on being a fan of Black Black, then please skip ahead to the next paragraph, because I’m about to throw out some spoiler information. How about this for a shocker: they perform painted head-to-toe in Black (Black)! I know: crazy! It’s like the lines of art and music were all tangling up into one big 21st century mess. The craziest thing about it was how they all covered their adorable-ness up: now that’s what I call an artistic statement! Although they initially came out to do soundcheck sans paintjob, but that only makes sense: how else would you know how adorable they were under the paint if they wore it all the time? Artistic statement, anyone?

By the time Deerfhoof took the stage, I was practically begging for some no-nonsense adult rocking. In fact I was literally begging, but my friend Jared told me it was very unbecoming of me, so I stopped. About ten minutes after the tears had dried, the three members of Deerhoof took the stage and the rocking began.

Deerhoof is mesmerizing. This Deerhoof magic, boy I tell you, it’s awesome. It’s graphic. You can’t look away. The way the drummer and guitarist pump out energy, they’re like a factory of no-nonsense adult rock energy, is what they are. And us fans, man, we’re just the power lines. [Author bends down to take a pull from the gravity bong.] No but seriously, if you haven’t seen Deerhoof, then see them. Go for the drumming, which is like nothing I could ever compare it to. But don’t take my word for it. Go for the guitar, which dittoes that last statement and then some. Go for the singing and dancing. About halfway through the set someone shouted out “you are the only music that matters”, and the thing about seeing Deerhoof is that you understand what this person is saying. Agree of disagree, Deerhoof looks sounds and feels like a whole new deal.

Go to Deerhoof, but don’t go for the opening bands, okay? Unless you like shitty music, or you have a lot of empathy, or you like to get a good sixer in you before the headliner starts. And by the way, if you fit those three categories, well it happens that I happen to be in a band myself. Did I ever tell you that? We play…well, it’s hard to describe…I don’t like to pigeonhole, so I usually just say it’s a rock band, but more experimental, you know? I don’t like to talk about it much cause, you know, it’s so cliché these days. Bein’ in a band and all that. But seriously, you should totally add us. I know somebody who knows somebody at KEXP.

-Scott Roots

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