Entering the Slasher House: Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks at Great American Music Hall

08/26/2014

Animal Collective fans can rejoice. Though AC have fallen off in productivity and quality following their meteoric ascent (cresting at 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion), their creative visionaries remain hard at work. Panda Bear relocated to Lisbon, recorded two well-regarded solo albums and even appeared on a Daft Punk song. Avey Tare, meanwhile, has created….this.

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In April 2013, Dave Portner (a.k.a. Avey Tare) formed Slasher Flicks–a horror themed three piece with Angel Deradoorian (vocals and keyboards) and Jeremy Hyman of Ponytail (drums). The notion of Slasher Flicks being a novelty band can be dismissed. Beside a dozen or so decorative skulls hanging around the stage lit up by a digital projector and reverb-laden B-movie quotes pulled up through Portner’s iPad, there was nothing overwhelmingly creepy going on at the Great American Music Hall Sunday night, besides the old wino lurking by the O’Farrell Theater next door.

As the inclusion of his name within the band’s suggests, Portner’s unique presence is central. His Slasher songs veer away from the dark and dreary self-indulgence of other solo releases (2007’s Pullhair Rubeye and 2010’s Down There), and, while they’re not quite “Monster Mash,” they are bouncier and friendlier to movement than anything on Centipede Hz. His erratic voice–mumbling, racing through complex phrases or yodeling, whining, screeching that are combined with layers of vocal effects–contributes to a sound fixated on texture and less about humming on your way to work. His guitar playing, though sharp in the punchier sections, resides mostly in the background, occasionally carrying a receptive melody such as the warbly three-note hook in “A Sender.”

Deradoorian, a former member of the Dirty Projectors and an accomplished solo act herself, complemented Tare with a wide array of looped backing vocals and deranged keyboard harmonies, while Hyman’s drumming deserves an article of it’s own. Though Portner’s compositions swerved faster than a kite in a hurricane, Hyman remained abreast with him constantly, embellishing and amplifying with ferocious intensity.

Every song from their first album (Enter The Slasher House, 2014) was jammed out to at least twice its length and moved fluidly under Hyman’s control of dynamics and creative, shifting patterns. Not once did a song seem over-extended; these live versions, with added percussive punches and gapless loops, make the album’s seem dormant by comparison. Everything meshed terrifically for the Flicks. Avey Tare’s strange and difficult compositions, super charged by a kick-ass band, severely frenzied and energized a dopey Sunday night crowd.

Photos by Gracie Malley