Dan Deacon With Prince Rama, Ben O'Brien and Party Static Trees, Dallas Saturday, April 25, 2015
To celebrate the first anniversary of Do214 on Saturday night at Trees, Dan Deacon came out using Steely Dan as entrance music and appreciated the curtains enough to have them ceremoniously closed and reopened. Twice, in fact. Deacon, whose between-song banter can be every bit as off-the-wall as his music, immediately went into a hilarious diatribe on the lack of curtains on stages these days and developed a long-winded, spur-of-the-moment theory on how this came about.
Do214 is one of the culture and event guides setup in 15 cities in North America by the (creatively named) DoStuff Network. As usual, Deacon immediately started providing instructions. He had the crowd pointing its index fingers at its brains and repeating his chants in no time.
Long gone are the days of Deacon performing in DIY spaces with bands like Future Islands in front of frustrated audiences telling him to shut up and play. After eight albums, countless other releases and constant touring, at this point people typically come in knowing what to expect. The crowd at Trees was completely converted and this absurd and wonderful electronic artist was preaching to the choir.
No one stood still unless Deacon asked them to. Every mouth was grinning or wide open. He had the audience eating out of his hand, gladly forming a circle and participating in a dance contest. The noise was so loud that drinks were shimmying right off the bar. Eventually the tapestry behind Deacon opened to reveal a drummer and bass player. People were crowd surfing. The light show started and it was predictably hyper and insane.
Later on, in a repeat of his performance at Index Fest last September, Deacon instructed the crowd to split into two teams for a group interpretive dance. The result was delightful and chaotic. After that he had the crowd head banging. Later on, he even had the crowd sing happy birthday to Do214. This unique live show couldn't have been better received by the massive Deep Ellum crowd.
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Earlier, local rock quintet Party Static started things off strong with "Oh Shit" from their latest EP. The band was in top form, with songs sounding very different from their recorded versions. What immediately stuck out was Brett Strawn's meandering guitar. Guy can shred. I mean seriously: He's a fucking guitarist. And he's really funny.
Party Static strutted through their set, commanding the stage just like it was any other. Older warhorses like "Party Girl" are still going strong, but "My Cat Doesn't Like That," the title track from their latest EP, has become a fabulous adrenaline rush. "Jilt the Jerk" is slower and heavier; it really changed the momentum and refocused the audience midway through their set, which started early at 8:30.
It is interesting to witness the evolution of this close-knit Dallas band. Billy Kuykendall holds everything together on drums, Alex Mitchell pushes the pace on bass and Strawn is all over the place. Leading the band, principle songwriter Laurel Harrell and Kjersten Funk just keep getting crazier and more confident on vocals. Anyone who can front a legitimate rock band while dancing like they are at a party is awesome.
Comedian Ben O'Brien followed, selling his "religion" after a brief technical difficulty. His performance was almost like a parody of an especially new-age corporate TED Talk. But he wore a sleeveless vest that exposed his chest, what appeared to be part of a feather war bonnet on his head and jeans hanging low enough to show some butt cleavage. Oh, and he finished his quick set by drinking raw eggs. The crowd liked it.
The final opener was Prince Rama, the artsy psychedelic sister duo known for constantly touring internationally and rapidly releasing albums. Originally from Houston, they were discovered by Avey Tare of Animal Collective and now operate out of Brooklyn. They said the last time they were in Dallas was for Bro Fest, the annual music festival from Parade of Flesh now known as Spillover. They showed up with a third member, their clothes and makeup were extremely loud and they had a trippy light show. The incessant touring has obviously paid off because they sounded near-perfect.
Taraka Larson fronts the group and she has a particularly androgynous gimmick. It is unlikely that anyone had questions about her gender throughout the first song. But after that, a manly voice took over and her vocal cords kept switching registers for the remainder of the set. She struck an especially low tone in between songs. It was a pretty solid mind fuck. The crowd swayed, but didn't really start dancing until Nimai Larson jumped into the crowd when she took over vocals for a song. Towards the end of the set, Taraka crowd surfed almost all the way to the back to the bar. She was lying serenely on her back with eyes closed, as if she was floating across a body of water.
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