I was kind of worn out from lack of sleep and moving back to Vancouver earlier in the day, so I napped my way through the two openers and made it just before Deerhoof took the stage. Seeing Satomi Matsuzaki (bass/vocals), Greg Saunier (drums), John Dieterich (guitar), and Ed Rodriguez (guitar as well) get up on stage was a bit surreal for being at Fortune Sound Club but since I’d already seen The Thermals, Lightning Bolt, and Man Man there, it rolled off my shoulders pretty easily.
Disclaimer, I know Deerhoof mostly by the order the songs come on when I’ve got headphones on, so I barely know song names. This is why I praise Setlist.fm as my personal Jesus of music because it’s turning a roughly 7 song setlist into a full one. So things may not be completely correct but I think I agree with most of the timeline here.
The song at the top of the night, ‘Mirror Monster’ from the amazing new album La Isla Bonita was a slow, smooth way to start things up. From the way they were playing it, I thought the guitar was really reminiscent of The Walkmen’s Lisbon, so that’s doing real good right off the bat. Like I say, not Deerhoof’s biggest fan ever but this album is by far my favourite, it just does everything right and this was a good song to bring people to attention before the much heavier sound of ‘Exit Only’, which is the single off the new album. ‘Paradise Girls’ is a prime example of why I love the new album so much. The guitar riffs are just so unique and they can always find melody in dissonance.
Now here’s where I disagree with this other setlist: ‘Doom’ off the new album definitely came before ‘Let’s Dance The Jet’. ‘Doom’ has this really cool pedal effect that Dietrich pulled out that sounded like a panflute playing a flighty island riff. ‘Let’s Dance The Jet’ is a cover from Mikis Theodorakis’ soundtrack for The Day The Fish Came Out that Deerhoof decided to put on their Deerhoof Vs. Evil album. The song certainly sounds like something out of 70’s sci-fi, and it is, so that’s perfect. Saunier had a complaint after the song, as apparently Vancouver was the only city that didn’t pass him back his drumstick when he dropped it during the song. Some girl in the crowd got chastised real good, poor thing. But these are the risks we take when we stand at the front.
Though I haven’t given the album a full listen, I’m content saying that ‘Last Fad’ is my favourite song off La Isla Bonita. It’s got this wicked Josh Homme-style guitar riff, and when Matsuzaki somehow spits out “la”s as fast as the guitar line snakes its way through your ears, it’s hard not to be incredibly impressed. Then, when you see her jumping around on stage with a cowbell for ‘We Do Parties’ (Breakup Song) the admiration just continues to grow. Matsuzaki manages to both be incredibly cute (in a totally non-demeaning way) and incredibly badass as she jumps around on stage with her bass, rocking out.
‘Bad Kids To The Front’ (Breakup Song) has some excellent arpeggios, further showing off Dietrich’s skills which is followed up by ‘Fresh Born’ (Offend Maggie) which is just goddamn weird in a wonderful way. According to my notes, the guitar on ‘Dummy Discards A Heart’ (Apple O’) reminded me of Godzilla.
‘Buck And Judy’ didn’t give me any weird impressions, but it slowed the sound down and took you through a trip in your head with its breezy pace. ‘Oh Bummer’ is the last song on the new album and it’s also the song that saw the biggest change-up as Matsuzaki and Saunier switched up in what I think (and I could be totally wrong) is the only song where such a change has occurred on stage. It was an eerie song, and Saunier’s singing along with his guitar line was interesting to see. ‘Twin Killers’ (The Runners Four) took us into the final song of the set ‘The Perfect Me’ which had such a disruptive beat that is a great show of Deerhoof’s eccentric style.
I think there was a mini-encore when they played ‘Oh Bummer’ but it may’ve just been to switch up instruments. For the real encore however, we got a snippet of ‘Apple Bomb’ (Apple O’) lyrics before they dropped into ‘There’s That Grin’ (Breakup Song) which had Matsuzaki dancing like crazy all over the stage in her fat-guy-Hawaiian-shirt. And just when you thought it was over, they busted out into ‘Come See The Duck’ (Koalamagic) which is even more bizarre and disruptive than ‘The Perfect Me’. It was the perfect song to thrash through to the end.
I do really wish that the show wasn’t an early show, as I would’ve liked to have heard more but a 16 and a bit song set isn’t anything to cry about; especially when such an excellent album has been put out and you get to hear a good chunk of it live. Deerhoof is bizarre and not for everyone but if you’re into the experimental punk rock world, then they’re kind of a must-have. They put on an excellent show, full of life, and Matsuzaki gives it her all in busting a move with the crowd. Definitely would see again.