Deerhunter @ The Corner Hotel,Melbourne (18/06/09)
Mon 22nd Jun, 2009 in Gig Reviews
Melbourne’s second helping of Deerhunter on Thursday night was one of those rare shows you hear discussed, but always seem to miss. It’s when a band plays one of THOSE gigs, the one that people will relate back to whenever Deerhunter is brought up in conversation, ‘were you at the Corner that time theyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦’. Quite simply, it was a night to remember.
Support acts The Twerps and Fabulous Diamonds will contribute nothing to the memory of this evening. While each band had their merits, neither stood out from the usual fare that often warm up for international acts, particularly when compared with Beaches, who warmed the stage for Deerhunter last week.
Having been at the gig last Friday night, I was expecting a similarly polished performance from Deerhunter, which showed the professionalism that only a wealth of touring experience can develop. Initially, such a prediction eventuated, with opening track Backspace Country proving that the band needed minimal time to get going. This continued with the captivating Disappearing Ink that was followed by Wash Off, which was close to track of the night. It epitomised the strength of Deerhunter, which lays in their ability to just play good music; whether it is with or without Bradford Cox’s vocals, it makes for good listening.
Around this time, Cox stated that in case anyone was attending from last week’s gig, they would play a different set with a lot of older stuff, this included Game of Diamonds, a song Cox said the band had never attempted live. Track of the night was Nothing Ever Happened, which included a nine minute jam that left most of the crowd speechless, apart from a group of individuals who helped shape what the night was to become, for it was also around this time that the gig took on a life of its own.
A section of the crowd near the Corner’s frustrating post, kept doing or saying something that made bassist Josh Fauver laugh. This went on for a few songs with Fauver cracking up any time he looked in the direction of these punters, eventually giving them the bird and laughing and yelling stuff toward them. This in turn sparked Cox, who joined in on the banter. Consequently, the band completely relaxed, putting them in a headspace that allowed them to fully express whatever it was they were feeling and what translated was something that nobody expected. Cox started to really chat to the crowd between song, improvising tracks, singing about other band members and just enjoying himself on-stage. While this seemed entertaining to most, things really got going in the encore.
Initially Cox came out on stage by himself with a towel over his head. He proceeded to jam out on the drums. Eventually he got up and started playing around on his guitar, before asking the crowd whether anyone knew how to play Blue Oyster Cult’s classic Don’t Fear the Reaper. After a few minutes, he was successful and soon he looped the main guitar riff before sitting again at the drums and accompanying himself. Eventually he was joined on stage by the rest of the band who helped complete the song. After this Cox had a ‘phone conversation’ with his mum on-stage, which was really him talking to himself through a filter, after which he then played Don’t Fear the Reaper again but replacing the lyrics so they described said phone conversation.
Through all this Fauver and drummer Moses Archuleta were devouring a bottle of Jim Beam. They launched into a rendition of Cover Me (Slowly) and Agoraphobia, which eventually blended into yet another rendition of Don’t Fear the Reaper. After this, Cox began to play Jimi Hendrix’s own Woodstock cover of the Star Spangled Banner. Through all this was continual discussion within the audience; the reaction to the antics was mixed. Guitarist Lockett Pundt was clearly growing frustrated with his contemporaries’ antics. At the end of the night, he walked off stage while Cox and Archuleta continued to jam within whatever world they were existing at the time, while Fauver poured water on them and took away their instruments until they stopped. The night finished with Cox saying ‘You can all go home now, bye’.
The fact was, who wanted to go home? What those present were fortunate to witness was the barrier between crowd and band completely disintegrate, leaving a room where musicians shared with the crowd a part of their personality and who honestly expressed themselves through their music. It was the sort of show I was yet to experience and something that will be difficult to forget. Fortunately, I don’t want to.