DeerhunterEdit this event
Battles and Deerhunter are charged with bringing the series of free shows at the Southstreet Seaport to a close, and for the first time in some two months the audience is largely male. I have to wonder if this has anything to do with the headliners’ categorization, ‘math rock’. Is there such a thing as male-oriented rock, just like there are chick flicks? I’m sceptical, but then again the evidence is here: during the show’s entirety, a group of heavy beer drinkers wave a Paris Hilton cardboard replica to the bands and the audience. Oh well.
Fittingly, perhaps, Deerhunter sound very angsty – a dreamy kind of angsty, though. This is the kind of music you play – and play loudly – when you lock up in your room and proceed to read your collection of music magazines. Their music is more complex than it seems, and it soon becomes clear that they possess a truly distinctive sound. Vocalist Bradford Cox chants atop an overpowering bang-bang from the drums; it’s easy to get caught in a trance. After a few songs, I feel like headbanging until my neck stiffens sore.
After a very long break, Battles take over – teenage angst giving way to haunted professionalism. Dave Konopka, the first of the four to wander onto the stage, starts up the machines. He motions to them, as if playing the part of a conductor, encouraging them to give their best. Gradually, the other members of the band take their places, each immediately possessed by their music. Bodies are bent over guitars held high, and as close to their chests as possible; it looks like their instruments are playing them. The feeling is contagious, as it soon feels like the audience is possessed, too.
Drawing heavily from their debut album Mirrored (reviewed here), tonight’s set features highlights such as ‘Race: Out’ and ‘Bad Trails’, via the brief stutter-burst of ‘Prismism’. Every song is as epic and hypnotic, an electronic update on ‘70s rock. The lyrics are eerie enough on record, but Tyondai Braxton takes this feeling to another dimension live, as he accompanies every word that comes out of his mouth - through a voice box - with long strokes of his left arm, as if pointing the way to each sound. Looking at him, you can see the music develop, phrase by phrase. The apex of the show, ‘Atlas’, sends the audience into hysterics with its high-pitched vocals, reminiscent of the Wicked Witch of the East’s army of Winkie soldiers chanting in The Wizard of Oz. Ohh-Hee-ohh…
‘Math rock’? Nah. I’d go for ‘Munchkin Hypnotica’.
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