Deerhunter Created An Onslaught on the Senses on 9/19 in NYC
Deerhunter have always been something of an enigma, much like their lead singer Bradford Cox. With that in mind, it’s always best to prepare yourself for the unexpected before seeing them live, a strategy that paid off when Cox took the stage wearing full-on drag (more on that later). Nevertheless, they’ve quietly built a massive following over the course of their career, thanks to their amorphous punk-injected sound; the buzzing sold-out show at Webster Hall last week made that much clear.
With the successful release of their latest album, Monomania, Deerhunter’s career has come full-circle. They’ve simplified things by revisiting the straightforward garage rock sound that made them such an interesting act in the first place, and yet even as you read this, many will likely scratch their heads at the band’s name, or ask “the Robert De Niro movie?”
The general consensus about Deerhunter fittingly matches the modest presence of Bradford Cox, who was born with a disease called Marfan Syndrome. It makes it hard for him to build mass, and thus, he’s extremely skinny and lanky (a condition he talks about openly). Naturally, as a kid he didn’t fit in anywhere and focused all his time on music, which sheds some light on Deerhunter as a band. Since their inception in 2001, they’ve simply focused on creating music, and little else.
When their 2007 album Cryptograms received unanimous critical praise, they didn’t waste time on press or pursuing fame, they just toured, got back into the studio, and released the follow-up (and equally great) Microcastle the next year. Cox took it even further by releasing the debut for his celebrated side-project Atlas Sound in 2009. With all that in mind, as soon as the lights dimmed at the packed-out Webster Hall (one of our favorite NYC venues), it was all about the music.
Cox took the stage in a black wig, a dress, and a leopard-print scarf, clearly having a bit of fun with the New York crowd. Fog machines continually filled the room with a dense haze as Deerhunter’s onslaught on the senses began. It was like watching a show in a haunted swamp somewhere in Louisiana. They unleashed distorted wails from guitars and energized Pixies style bass lines from their sprawling catalog. A dizzying array of lights and blinding strobes mesmerized the crowd. It was a serious trip.
Crowd favorites “Revival” “Back to the Middle” and “Agoraphobia” each one-upped the level of excitement, and Cox returned the appreciation by mentioning NYC shows were their favorites. With good reason, this was their 3rd stop in the city on the tour, and it was added due to high demand. He joked with fans in between songs, and milked the New York love by waiting about five minutes before sending the crowd into a frenzy and returning to the stage for an encore.
For an artist that usually focuses solely on music, it never hurts to take it all in once in a while; it was certainly well-deserved. It’s reasonable to imagine, however, that Bradford Cox walked off the stage and immediately thought—”what’s next?”
Article by Nicolas White & Jonathan Miller