Deerhunter: Noise Pop Opening Night

02/27/2009

This is the night of show, chronicled by every twenty minutes or so, until I had too many beers. Enjoy:

7:20 There are two lines that seem too long for this back alley nightclub. A hearse pulls up to the front entrance of Mezzanine. Through the window I can see a drum set. The car is huge and some poor guy is going to be forced to find a place to park it.

7:40: I’m still waiting in line.

8:03 We’re in and yes—free stuff! Filter magazine, cool—but free Red Stripes, well that’s just what I wanted after work.

8:05 Dntel couldn’t seem any more disinterested. He stands over the two decks like he’s been studying them all day and just wants to put them up on the shelf.

Pop chips, beer, and Dntel: just your average bar scene for indie hipsters.

8:20 My girlfriend walks up to a deserted bar table, and looking at the fifteen or so empty Red Stripes says, “We should be hanging out with these people.” Plan: finish this drink before 8:30, and get one more in during the special. The crowd is loose, promotional flyers are scattered on the floor, if the beers were free any longer this would become a shit show.

8:25 Oh snaps! They’re out of Red Stripe, Guiness it is. (Yo advertisers check me out: I’m pluggin!) The mass exodus to the second floor is beginning. Crazy, one person goes, and EVERYONE is now going. Guess I’ll go too.

9:00 Upstairs is hot, and downstairs is crowded. Beats are banging with eclectic styles from psychedelic techno to African grooves. Vibes are chill. It may be Fat Tuesday, but this crowd isn’t flashing anything.

9:30 It’s the opening celebration for San Francisco’s Noise Pop indie music and art festival, and I’m one of several journalists. Cameras are snapping from the top of the stairs. Man, I got to get a business card.

9:33 BOOM! BooooMMM! Now that’s a bass. Hidden from the stage, I was mislead by the techno rhythm, as it’s overpowered by a female vocalist whose gruff voice sounds more heavy metal than techno-melodic-pleasant.

9:55 “Can I take off my tights. I’m not trying to be a slutty band girl,” said the female vocalist of Lilofee. As she shouts over the mic, the band furiously keeping pace, I feel I’m drowning in a dark satanic world. She sounds like Orgy—you know the 90s band that covered The Cures “Blue Monday,” with a heavy metal tone—oh you don’t know, surprise, surprise—wonder why.

10:00 Time to get away from the stage. Oh look, Toyota merchandise. Thanks Antic (plug). If smoking wasn’t enough to kill you, free ice cream bars, and Rock Band the video game in the back of a car—thank you corporations.

10:10 After chatting with my fellow smoking compadres we’ve reached a consensus—the first group was not for us.

10:20 Did they just raise the sound levels? Earplugs—check. Wait, to my left is a guy leaning again the banister alone; looking around aimlessly—I think I’ll hold on to the plugs.

10:30 It’s official: the crowd drinking in anticipation having been forced to wait so long—are drunk. A girl in front of me stumbles around, looking for a guy to look back at her. She meets an equally drunk fella, and well, you know the rest.

10:45 Waiting for an hour sucks. Rumor has it the second band is a no show.

10:50 A hazy mist dissipates as the light focuses on the center of the stage where Deerhunter emerges. Their weapon: ample amounts of noise. My first suspicions are correct, the levels were raised.

A deafening noise, created between a cross of feedback and extended notes reverberate through the crowd. People look at each other wondering “Is it loud or am I really old?”
I take out the earplugs, and instantly reinsert them—no thanks.

11:05 Familiar with Deerhunter, but never a follower, their music blends heavy rock with a more current Coldplay emo-rock. Though tonight, their, amplified to a max, is discordant, rough, and spacey. After three songs, I’m growing tired of the sharp shrills, and am unfamiliar with most of the music. I suggest leaving, and as we’re walking out, I hear some familiar chords, it’s “Never Stop.”

So I listen to this song, relishing the track I know and then, with a handful of free gear, I call it a night. I’m a working man now—bedtime.

Check out below for other live reviews:

Rock’s Promising: Live Review of Glasvegas and Von Iva

There are No Boundaries for Alice Russel, Live Review