I’d be hard pressed to name an artist as genuine, as good natured, and as caring as Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox. Before his band’s set at the Grog Shop Friday night, he was out in the courtyard in front of the venue, hanging out and talking with fans. During the sound check, he repeatedly asked the crowd if his guitar sounded ok. He really wanted that guitar to sound ok. Then, just as the band were ready to kick things off, he launched into this long story about The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Mitch Mitchell passing away, and how it reminded him of his youth, when the Dead’s Jerry Garcia passed, and meatheads used that opportunity to speak ill of the legendary artist, and how he called into a radio show to say how it wasn’t cool to make fun of the dead. The story was supposed to end with an F bomb and the band was to kick out a jam. It didn’t happen that way. Someone, ok everyone, missed their cue. He tried it again, and again, the band totally missed their cue.
Still, most in the crowd gladly looked past the shaky start. How could you not? Cox seemed so genuine, and good natured, and caring, and his band finally have the songs to back up all the hype which has been surrounding them since Pitchfork’s first glowing review last year. Then came another false start and a song totally aborted after 10 or 12 bars. All Cox wanted was to give the crowd a special show on a Friday night, the best night for a rock show.
Sure, when the band did have their sh*t together, they sounded fantastic, like on “Cryptograms,” when the band covered the crowd in a slowly, pulsating comfortable wave of sound. Then, again on Microcastle’s bouncy, pop number, “Never Stops, “and the “Dirty Boots” styled alterna-anthem “Nothing Ever Happened,” complete with some killer echo frenzy.
Openers, Times New Viking fared much better. This is a band who have been practically living on the road ever since their Matador Records release, Rip It Off, came out earlier this year, and all the cities and all the shows are starting to pay off in a much more entertaining live set. They’ve always had the songs (The pop songs, the songs about drugs, the songs about being on drugs, and the songs not about drugs), and for some, that was enough. Now, they’re able to present them in a manner which engages the crowd and shakes the crowd with their loud, loud sound. It wasn’t quite ear bleeding country, but as the band turned up the amps, set the keyboards well past distortion, and ripped through pop songs like “Natural Resources,” “Devo & Wine,” “Pagan Eyes,” and “Love Your Daughters,” I bopped my head, moved my feet, and wondered again, how much hearing I’ll have left when I’m 64.