Take a song – in this case songs written by them, but not necessarily – and have Deerhoof play it. They will play it accurately. They will play it loudly. And they will fuck it up in a way that makes you rethink what you thought about songs in the first place and why you think you might play them. Last night the band played a powerhouse set at Europa, celebrated frontwoman Satomi Matsuzaki’s birthday and in general proved that they are one of the most important live bands currently on the scene.
The set started with a black and white video accompanying “The Merry Barracks” from the band’s new record Deerhoof vs. Evil. The video showed a bunch of people looking pensive just before their heads exploded. It’s kind of hard to think of anything more apt. The band took the stage, Satomi rocking a beautiful bright red dress and all sorts of glitter on her face. They launched into an energetic, bouncy and aggressive set of tunes from that new album as well as some hits from their 16-year spanning career.
Songs like “Super Duper Rescue Heads!” proved a perfect example of what these guys are currently doing. It starts off as a pop song with Satomi innocently repeating “me to the rescue!” and then builds to a place where the song falls apart, but the crowd stays rapt in awe. A noisy mash with drummer Greg Saunier hitting his set harder than most hardcore drummers could ever dream of. Then the song wraps back around and comes back together, proving their musical prowess and ability to truly rock.
Older songs like “Come See The Duck” were tossed in not just as a crowd-pleaser, but more like a way for the band to have tons of fun. Matsuzaki showing off her sweet moves and bopping around and pointing at the crowd to provide the necessary “WOO!”s at the right moments. The same goes for the encore cover of the Ramone’s “Pinhead.” Guitarist John Dieterich yelling into the mic “Gabba! Gabba! We accept you! We accept you! One of us!”
The highlight of the night came just after midnight. With a booming voice announcing that the clock had just struck and it was now Satomi’s birthday. Saunier brought out a small (and delicious-looking!) cake with a single candle on it. The entire crowd of Europa sang their birthday wishes and Satomi blew out the candle with her hands above her head like cat ears.
The band returns to New York City in March, playing Le Poisson Rouge. You should make it your business to be there.