posted on June 17, 2008 10:26
Dan Deacon and Jape (live in Vicar Street, Dublin)
Review Snapshot: Anyone in Vicar Street for last Saturday's Future Days Festival was in for a treat: Deerhunter, Dan Deacon, White Williams and Jape were all outstanding. Jape was somewhat of an anti-climax after Dan Deacon (who should have headlined), but the love at the venue was massive and the buzz after Dan was sweaty, electric, otherworldly.
The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10
It was strange being at Vicar Street so early. The venue was close to empty when Brooklyn duo High Places came onstage. The gig warmed up slowly with a couple of curious onlookers nodding their heads to the beats. Though High Places knocked out a couple of wickedly intense tribal percussion pieces, the pair just didn't have enough charisma to warrant looking at. Ping-pong ball noises, shaky and scratchy erratic beats led into a more ambient Buddhist lounge style; Mary Pearson's vocals however sounded flat and she held a faraway look throughout the performance, as if trying to determine whether or not she'd left the iron on.
Remember those Mini Melodicas you had when you were growing up, before you realised that rockstars don't play instruments that are rainbow-coloured? Well it seems that at almost every gig I've been to lately, a band has played said instrument with renewed childhood gusto. White Williams did this, as well as mixing some funky electro indie with a more 90s sound and look (lumberjack shirts included). Some tunes had lots of alien synth effects while heavier, rockier tracks were purely for a crowd that the lead singer hoped were 'ready to mosh'.
When Deerhunter came on they exceeded all expectations. The crowd began to pick up the pace. Head-nodding turned into springing, springing turned into light jumping and dancing. The band mashed loud distorted sounds with a fiery harmonica on the stand-out track. They played a kind of old-school tingly rock with moments of euphoria, frenetic drumming, and fragments of stillness. When they finished the crowd was happy, shiny, loved up, anticipating Mr. Deacon - who of course had been wandering around the crowd chatting with everyone, smiling and generally just looking contented.
Everything about Dan Deacon is big. Big shorts, big glasses, big presence, big sound, big happy smile. And when the venue went pitch black for Dan, the crowd got bigger too. Everyone was close to bursting with excitement - you could almost feel everyone's hearts open. Dan Deacon doesn't do stages. He plays amongst the crowd, and has a light that he shines over the fans as he makes them do whatever he asks - at the beginning of the gig he told us all to 'Shut up! Shut up! You, shut up too!' Brilliant. We were then asked to raise our hands, form fists, point in the air and sink to our knees. The first track came on as we got up. Dan's trippy green skull was at the centre stage and flashed on and off as the crowd began moshing, hugging, crowd-surfing, going insane. It's been too long since gigs were like this; it makes you wonder where the whole nod-heading, thigh-tapping, style of gigs has come from. 'The Crystal Cat' made everyone go nuts. Dan made us form a huge circle around a wee spectacled boy in a Superman tee-shirt. 'Superman is gonna high-five everyone,' Dan told us. Every time you got a high five you had to run around in a circle high-fiving as many people as you could for them to join the circle. Just picture an entire crowd running around Vicar Street in a circle. For 'Snake Mistakes' we had to run through a line of people forming arches with their hands clasped together in the air. Everyone was smiling. Everyone joined in. When 'Wham City' came on people were completely at one with each other and the entire venue felt soaked with a kind of insane, sweaty, psychedelic love. The only negative thing about the performance was that Dan didn't play last.
When Jape took to the stage, the energy level was still up, but not quite as crazy. Richie Egan did look as though he were slightly off his face, but he put in a powerful, fun performance and was like a bubble of energy onstage. The crowd-surfing continued. Some of the tracks from the new album didn't sound as polished as they could have, but the crowd didn't care at that point. The final track had everyone dancing, bouncing, exploding. After the gig there was a buzz in the crowd that I haven't felt for a long time, and a sense that everyone had experienced the craziness of Dan Deacon. There's also something curiously close about sweat that seems to bind folks together.