Deerhunter, Best Coast
November 5, 2010
Better than: forgetting that Deerhunter are shoegazers at heart
"You win some and you lose some" said Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox as he ended an impromptu solo jam taken when his bandmates and crew tried to work through equipment problems early in their set last night.
Deerhunter has been on the road since for nearly six weeks at this point, and the group showed some signs of the toll the road can take on a band and its equipment.
Taking the stage at the packed Granada, the band launched into its set at 11 p.m. with "Desire Lines," the guitar romp from the just-released Halcyon Digest. Led by the vocals of Lockett Pundt, the song set the tone for what would be a loud, guitar-driven evening. Then, launching without pause into "Hazel Street" from their breakthrough Cryptograms album, the band set the direction of the set and tone of the evening, with a loud wash of sound that acknowledged the band's beginnings as an ambient noise generator.
After the pause for equipment repair, the band resumed playing a set that tilted slightly toward Halycon but that included many highlights of Microcastles and Cyrptograms.
With bass player Josh Fauver centered on the stage with a beatific smile, Cox and Pundt traded lead guitar duties through the evening. But, on top of the instruments, their sound was driven nearly as much as the loops and effects that Cox was driving with his pedals. This noise, with the already dodgy sound mix, ultimately came to dominate the music.
After completing "Nothing Ever Happens," the band's other famous guitar jam highlight of Microcastles, Cox strapped on an acoustic guitar with an effects-ladened output. The two deeply affecting songs "Helicopter" and "He Would Have Laughed" are what emerged from the sonic soup, their tragic lyrics victimized by the messy sound.
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And, after a short break, the band came back for a two-song encore, including "Agoraphobia" and evening closer "Cryptograms," before finally leaving the stage some 90 minutes after starting.
Best Coast opened and played a spirited and well-received set prior to Deerhunter's. The Los Angeles trio, led by the personable Beth Cosentino connected well with the audience, with shoutouts to Texas and Lil Wayne's recent release from prison.
Personal Bias: Cox has evolved into a talented songwriter dealing with heavy topics. The presentation this evening seemed at odds with these personal, affecting lyrics and songs, tending instead to play more to the band's shoegazer legacy.
Random Note: As I struggled with the too-muddy sound at the Granada, I often glanced over to see if the sound guy was trying to do anything to make it better. Nope. All evening it seemed he was glued to his cell phone -- texting, Facebooking, who knows what -- and not working on making the music sound better. Really?