Thursday, February 24, 2011

Live Review: Dan Deacon's Rickshaw Stop Show Was a Hot Mess

By Ellen Cushing
Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 10:19 AM

in the best way possible, that is. Anyone who's seen the trash-DIY electronic artist perform knows that the music itself is almost secondary to the extracurricular activities: Deacon treats his live show less like a passive experience and more like a dance party, presiding over the crowd like something between an avuncular professor type and a benevolent dictator. From the moment Deacon started playing at around 11:15, it was clear that last night's show — the second of two Noise Pop gigs for him this week — was no exception.

Clad in an oatmeal-colored T-shirt and his trademark glasses, he set up shop at around 11:15 p.m. with his equipment not onstage but in the middle of the floor, and immediately began leading the audience through a group activity that he described as an exercise in reaching a collective "synchronicity zone."* From there, he ran through all his bigger hits and a few new songs — all uniformly impressive, especially the new stuff, heavier and a bit weirder than what we've seen from him thus far — as a sweaty ecstatic dance party emerged all around him. The stage was adorned with a creepy green skull the whole time, and Deacon's stage banter was a sort of stream-of-consciousness burble touching on topics as divergent as mortality, puppies. and the specifics of his equipment problems (which were present but hardly obtrusive). The stunts also didn't stop: at one point, Deacon implored members of the crowd to put their hands on each others' heads, canopy-style***. At another, he set up an elaborately orchestrated dance battle, complete with a code of conduct that took several minutes to run through. It dissolved back into a frenetic, sweaty tangle of bodies within about thirty seconds, but nobody seemed to mind.

*If anyone can prompt a roomful of rowdy, smart-alecky hipsters to effectively play Simon Says for ten minutes — without a single smirk in sight! — it's gotta be Deacon.
** Major props to the guy in the wheelchair!
***file under: better enjoyed while rolling

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