Music’s populist vigilantes continue their mission to explore the potential to be found within off kilter sounds
Hunched over the tiny microphone belonging to vocalist and bassist Satomi Matsuzaki, away from the stool where he has been feverishly attacking his poor kicks, toms and cymbals with a variety of sticks, brushes, and on one occasion his bare hands, Deerhoof’s lovable muppet drummer Greg Saunier is content to wisecrack about various topics such as slippery risers, taking photos of their sweaty hair, nostalgic ancient tour shirts and the importance of lasers between the tightly controlled chaos that resonates tonight through the group’s jarringly inventive set.
Hardcore fans, of which their appear to be many for this, the fifth time the band have visited the city, will know that Deerhoof always deliver a containment breach of ingenuity when performing on stage together. They’ll also know that despite Matsuzaki being the cerebral heart of the band on record, it’s Saunier who functions as the jovial link between band and audience on tour. That’s not to undermine guitarists Ed Rodriguez and John Dieterich, who both excel at the short staccato hard rock swashes and dreamy squalls that make up the band’s sound.
After 18 (or 19, depending on whether you count live albums, collaborations and soundtrack work) full length albums, the artistically flamboyant and snazzily dressed San Francisco four-piece have a wealth of material to choose from and they attack their catalogue like a buffet, delivering pops of sound from across the spectrum. Of course we get stuff from their most recent release, this year’s Japanese language wonder Miracle Level, but we get deeper cuts like Offend Maggie’s Fresh Born, a rapturous version of Milk Man from the similarly titled 2004 classic and a revelatory This Magnificent Bird Will Rise from 2002’s Reveille.
Making light of the fact that tonight’s venue is the only location so far in the band’s lengthy career that agreed to their tongue in cheek contractual request for stadium-worthy lasers on the tiny club stage, the band begin that familiar bassline to TV’s Knight Rider that forms the basis of Love Lore 3, and strobes of colour dance across the faces of a highly enthused crowd for what is unquestionably one of the highlights of the evening. Somehow the brash yet self-deprecating showmanship befits a band who perpetually prove themselves to be music’s populist vigilantes on a continuing mission to explore the potential to be found within off kilter sounds.