Dan Deacon Delirium

This past Thursday night we went to one of the most bizarre concerts we have ever been too–AND one of the most fun.
If you’ve never before heard of Dan Deacon, read on, brothas and sistas…

I first discovered Dan Deacon in the Pitchfork top 100 albums of the year review–he was hailed as the most unusual but deserving candidate for the top 10 spot, and his music was described as “experimental electronica that would border on chintzy if it weren’t so expertly put together…Dan Deacon is a spreader of silly joy….”

So I decided to give his album a listen on Yahoo. I had no idea what to think at first. Then I wanted to stop listening and call the editors of Pitchfork to tell them they were crazy. The first song was a continuous loop of Woody Woodpecker set to video-game like background noise. It was kind of maddening… The songs that followed sounded as bizarre as their titles, “Silly Hat vs. Eagle Hat”, “Pizza Horse”, and “Snake Mistakes”. Who was this guy, and what was he thinking?

But, the more I listened, a funny thing happened…the more I LIKED it. The more I couldn’t get it out of my head! The more the silliness grew on me and I thought those Pitchfork folks just might be right, that this music is an unusual work of genius. So I found myself becoming a fan. I told Chris to listen to the album, and at first HE thought I was crazy…but then HE couldn’t stop listening to it either! In fact, he listened to it more than I did!

So when we heard that Dan Deacon was performing at Pearl Street, we felt we just had to go and meet this mysterious man behind the weird music.

In person, Dan looked even weirder than his music. He was the epitome of geek, with giant spectacles that covered half his face. He was chubby, balding and wore an ensemble that looked like he swiped it off the Salvation Army clearance rack–rolled up sweatpants, neon socks and all. But he had an endearing quality to him; there was no hint of pretentiousness about him, despite the cult following he had and his underground electronica fame. He mingled with the crowd during both opening acts, shook hands and made jokes. He ordered beer-and had to pay for it-at the bar like everyone else. He even used the sketchy bathroom that everyone else used. In fact, some people didn’t even seem to know who he was. He apologized profusely after bumping into a girl who obviously had no idea it was him.
He just was a giant, nerdy teddy bear you wanted to squeeze.

The first opener, Eric Hnatow, was a Noho native who had impressive energy. His music sounded as catchy and offbeat as a Super Mario brothers game. He got a little weird with his wild dancing at the end, but overall he was fun and got the crowd going.

Speaking of the crowd–quite possibly the best part of going to a Dan Deacon show was the people watching. People were doing every kind of crazy dance you could imagine, particularly this one young kid we nicknamed “Chicken guy”, and his aptly-named partner “Senor Rubber Legs”. There was all kinds of crazy dress too: a guy wearing a superman shirt, a giant red cowboy hat and blue spandex pants; a guy with a giant curly sue wig on, and a guy dressed in head-to-toe plaid, with a paperboy hat and some impressive mutton chops.

The second act was Future Islands, whom we weren’t really impressed with, so we won’t waste time talking about them.

When it was Dan’s turn to take the stage, he wheeled out this little homemade cart of his electronic gear, covered with colored duct tape. He spent a good amount of time setting up-amongst the crowd and not above us on stage, which was suprising. He even mounted a giant green glow-in the dark skull on his table. All the while he was setting up, he blasted Salt and Pepa’s “Shoop” over the speakers and danced like a dog rubbing up against a cactus (his own description of his dancing, not ours).

The show that was to follow was an hour and a half of sheer silliness and fun. For as many concerts as we have been too, we’ve never seen such collective energy from any crowd (even with Bjork!!!). It was suprising and it made us see just how much of a cult following Dan really had.

He played an amazing, fun set and got everyone involved. He even staged a “dance off” between opposite sides of the room (the rules were you had to look your opponent in the eye and dance the craziest dance you’ve ever danced, all while keeping a straight face and not chickening out if you’re picked to go next). Later on, he had everyone in the room do a “sassy love train” kind of dance around the room. No one could stop laughing. He entertained us with jokes about himself and funny anecdotes and rants in between songs.

He ended his set with a 12 minute long ditty called “Wham City” whose lyrics involve a bear who starts a band with other animals and who sings about sharks and castles and swords”–it made NO sense at all but it was a fun finale.

Overall the energy that he set off was infectious, and his lovable geek-hero demeanor made us love him even more.

Yup, as crazy as it sounds we’ve become one of those fans, and we’d definitely go see him again if he comes back to the area.

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