Deerhunter @ Webster Hall

This was my sixth Deerhunter show, and I was curious to see how the Athens-based foursome would present their fuzz-laden pop melodies to a larger NYC venue. Webster Hall is nearly three times the size of the Music Hall of Williamsburg (Brooklyn), where I saw the band twice. Bradford Cox and company had played Webster Hall already last October, but this time it was the first of two sold-out shows. It was immediately obvious that the band was going to play off their recent indie stardom while they could. The band minus Bradford Cox came on stage and were greeted by anxious applause at around 10:30. They began playing an extended intro to “Basement Scene,” as Mr. Cox finally strolled out and caught a mic tossed by one of the stage techs. The crowd showed their appreciation for the frontman’s appearance, and he began humming the opening melody of the Everly Brothers-inspired track.

In the past, Cox tended to take a very reserved approach (post dress-wearing era, of course) to his live performances. Tonight was something different. Bradford appeared to be in full-blown rock star mode, and deservedly so. The singer/guitarist/effects manipulator added new lyrics and energetic sound effects throughout the setlist, and he wore his hair in either a classic or postpunk style (I couldn’t see it that well). All of this was even more impressive considering the band was severely jet-lagged following several international flights over the past week. Cox even admitted halfway through the set he was somewhat delirious, but that the effects were like a drug. Don’t be fooled by Cox’s new-found rock star energy; he is still the most polite and approachable musician working today.

The setlist contained mostly new tracks off of highly-acclaimed Halcyon Digest. Usually, a crowd is not as eager to hear the new stuff, but Deerhunter is just starting to reach a larger audience, and Halcyon is the album that is responsible. Unfortunately, the fairweather fans at last night’s show proved to be such, as many fled to the bars during the band’s more obscure songs like “Little Kids.” Longtime fans, of course, appreciated the balance of the set, and especially the new approaches to several tracks, including 10+ minute jam versions of “Nothing Ever Happened” and instant-classic “He Would Have Laughed.” The latter was one of the most creative variations of an already incredible song I have witnessed, and it was perfectly placed at the end of the band’s encore. Deerhunter announced that it would not return to NYC for some time. Fortunately, this gig will standout in our memories for some time.

Deerhunter – Webster Hall – August 22, 2011
Basement Scene
Desire Lines
Hazel St.
Don’t Cry
Little Kids
Memory Boy
Nothing Ever Happened
Spring Hall Convert
Cover Me (Slowly)
Green Fuzz (by The Cramps)

He Would Have Laughed

{Photos by Tom Choi]

Mark Written by:

Avid concert goer and film buff obsessed with indie and electronic music.

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