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Photos by Tim Skalland

Deerhoof, Busdriver, blackblack

Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA, January 7th, 2007

Jan 07, 2007 blackblack Bookmark and Share

“It’s sold out?!?”

“Yeah, it’s sold out.”

“Ah, man…”

I’m happy to say that Deerhoof is getting the popular appreciation that they deserve. A band whose sum is exponentially greater than its parts, Deerhoof has been blowing me away for years, and while critics have adored them, they have often been unfairly categorized as too difficult for the casual listener. Apparently, their opening spots (well… opening for Radiohead) are finally getting them more recognition and helping them sell out shows. Yay for Deerhoof!

blackblack opened up the show wearing animal outfits. Judging by their MySpace site, they like to dress up. I thought they played a charmingly amateurish set with a few really nice tunes, but ultimately just a little too cute and precious for me to stomach. Nothing remarkable, but an appropriate opener for the show. The drummer could have smiled once or twice; she couldn’t have looked more bored. They did a great job covering the Misfits’ “Skull” and closed with a song called “I Wish I Were A Scientist.” Here are some sample lyrics to give you an idea of what the band is all about:

I wish I were a scientist
But I never did well at school
I find it really fascinating
I think science is really cool

(Let me hand off this next paragraph to my friend, Thomas Hynes.)

Busdriver proved that hipsters and Hip-Hop can co-exist peacefully. The Los Angeles rapper came across more like an art student with sublime rhyming abilities and less like some of his other iced-out Hip-Hop colleagues. Draped in Christmas-tree lights, with corduroy pants and a retro t-shirt, Busdriver’s melodic freestyling and abstract content translated to a dope live set. Despite a crowd of kids who’d rather keep their hands in their pockets then “wave ‘em from side-to-side,” Busdriver still kept the energy high and the rap true.

(Thanks, Mr. Hynes.)

Deerhoof have become more accessible over the years, and in a very good way. When I first became aware of the band I got the impression that they were doing art rock for art rock’s sake, something that normally turns me off. Greg Saunier’s drumming was so incredible, though, that I hung with them. They have grown from cultivating distinct sounds to creating lovely, thought-provoking songs. Now after nine albums and several EPs and singles in about ten years, they have proven themselves to be top-notch artists capable of being sweetly charming, wildly experimental, and completely individual.

This Tuesday night was no different. Now performing as a three piece since the departure of guitarist Chris Cohen, Deerhoof opened their set with a few songs from their latest groundbreaking album, Friend Opportunity. I situated myself on Greg’s side of the stage so as to meld into drum bliss as quickly as possible. Whether laying down the relatively straightforward beat in “+81” or the woodblock laden freak out of “The Perfect Me,” Greg’s taste and chops are impeccable. Satomi Matsuzaki is still impossible to look at without smiling and she has turned into quite a monster of a bassist. Whenever she is not playing or singing she tends to bust out the Satomi Shuffle—a head-down, running in place dance that is completely adorable. John Dieterich may not make a huge impression on stage, but his guitar work is the ethereal glue tying together the manic drumming and playful singing.

This show was the best Deerhoof performance I have seen—the excited feeling coming from the stage, playing in their hometown, the energy in the crowd, the spot-on playing, and the venue itself (my favorite in San Francisco)—everything was dead perfect. I was even able to make it halfway through the set without earplugs due to an excellent soundman. They played about 12 songs before taking a quick break and coming back to do a short encore, the final song with Busdriver. After filing out, I rode my bicycle down to the BART station with a giant smile on my face, their songs in my head, and completely oblivious to the fact that I’d broke my front brake while reattaching my wheel. Filled with musical ecstasy and invincible.

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June 1st 2017

I watched this live on my TV back then. Now. I’m watching all the live Events on Mobdro Andorid app. Those were the golden days in my life.