Song of the Day by Eric Berman – “Mirror Monster” by Deerhoof/Concert Review – Bottom Lounge, Chicago, IL 11/11/14
Twenty years in as a band and 13 studio albums later, Deerhoof have grown in leaps and bounds from their early punk beginnings to the angular dance music they put out today. With the twin guitars of John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez exchanging shards of sound and in-synch intricate patterns, and the ever-manic Greg Saunier’s dynamic and shape-shifting percussive gymnastics bouncing off Satomi Matsuzaki’s funked-up Hofner bass lines and baby-girl vocals, the band’s sound has become singularly unique.
It was indeed a feast for the ears last night at The Bottom Lounge in Chicago where the band slaughtered the audience with a sound that was part Yoko Ono in its dance sensibilities and part King Crimson in its complexity.
The band took to the stage with the soothing “Mirror Monster” which is not only the best song on their latest album La Isla Bonita, but is also today’s Song of the Day by Eric Berman. The twin guitars of Dieterich and Rodriguez laid out floating blankets of sonic ooze while Satori sang “We are riders in the cavalry/Who will soon be victims of our imitators/What did we expect?” She then anchored the track with a purposely clunky bass line that became a superb counter to the song’s mystical melody. It was a magical beginning of a night that saw the band focus on their latest release early on before digging deep into their musical archive.
Other highlights from La Isla Bonita included the album’s lead track “Paradise Girls” which celebrates smart girls who play the bass guitar with Rodriguez and Dietrich trading scratchy guitar patterns over the organized chaos of Saunier’s drumming. Indeed watching Saunier on the drums is one of the highlights of seeing the band in person, and when he later took to the microphone to lead the audience in a chorus of Happy Birthday for Dieterich’s brother who was in attendance; his dialog added a dose of surrealism to the mix.
They also played the quasi-tropical track “Doom,” “Exit Only” with its pulverizing introduction that hearkened back to the sound of Nirvana, and the lanky “Last Fad” which found Satori exclaiming that “Baseball is cancelled/E.T. is running late/You from America” and made it all make perfect sense. Later in the set, Satori and Saunier traded instruments for a spooky version of La Isla Bonita’s final cut “Oh Bummer.”
The group also dug into earlier fan favorites including “Fresh Born” and “Buck and Judy” from Offend Maggie, “Dummy Discards A Heart” from Apple O, “Twin Killers” from The Runners Four and “Bad Kids To The Front” from Breakup Song.
The concert ended with the punk rock simplicity of the Ramones’ “Pinhead” that further contrasted the complex music the band laid out all night long and a final off-the-chart sing-along version of “Come See the Duck.”