Photographs by Eric Lawson
Written by Justin Gillett
Shortly after Dan Deacon started his set at the Independent on Tuesday night, I realized I was too sober to truly enjoy the show. Yes, I’d thrown back a few beers earlier in the evening—but upon hearing Deacon’s manic electronic beats and seeing members of the audience shake their heads to the noise, I became aware that my hardly noticeable state of inebriation wouldn’t let me completely lose my composition, immerse myself in the sound and revel in the show’s rowdy nature.
Dan Deacon: “Get Older”
The portly Baltimore-based electronic wunderkind was set up in the middle of the floor and had an impressive collection of effects pedals, looping devices, vocoders and MPCs positioned on his workstation. For the past few years, Deacon has been playing with a full backing band recreating his experimental pop music and his show at the Independent showcased a side of Deacon that has been kept under wraps for a bit.
But the show was pretty much the same as gigs with his band. Yes, he split crowd in half and ordered both sides to a dance-off; yes, he singled out a member of the audience and had the poor sap start a sort of Simon-says dance routine that was emulated by the rest of the audience; and yes, he orchestrated a quasi-conga line with willing participants. Nothing really new.
Deacon did, however, play some of his latest, unreleased material and the tracks sounded distinctively mellower than stuff that has come off his previous LPs. I’m tempted to think these songs might be off the soundtrack Deacon is reportedly working on for Francis Ford Coppola’s forthcoming film because of the refined and less frenzied quality of the tracks. The prolific director/wine proprietor/ Napa Valley resident was actually in attendance(!), on the VIP balcony, of course, and it was slightly strange to imagine what the rather stoic director must think of Deacon’s odd music and the young crowd’s eager involvement in the concert experience.
Deacon’s equipment had apparently been shoddily transported by members of Southwest Airlines baggage handling staff and even though he managed to crack a joke at his equipment’s expense, it didn’t hide the fact that there were minor, but fairly obvious, technical problems in a few of his songs. These glitches didn’t mask Deacon’s adept skills with the tools he uses to create his music though.
Without the aid of a laptop or any sort of computer screened gadgetry, he created his eclectic electronic music with a distinctively organic composition method (read: tapping pedals, pushing buttons and building loops). I found his characteristic style of singer/songwriter meets electronic-amalgam to be fairly monotonous and even difficult to listen to at times; but even though I thought a few of his songs to be slightly annoying, I still found and continue to find Deacon’s skills to be impressive and his jovial disposition extremely endearing.
(More photos by Eric Lawson)