Busdriver, The Harlem Shakes
Orlando, Fla. • February 19, 2007
Thirteen years and seven albums into Deerhoof‘s career, they have found themselves at the epicenter of media buzz. Rave reviews have captured the attention of the fickle concertgoers, and they came out in packs for the show at Orlando’s The Social.
Playing to early arrivers was Brooklyn’s The Harlem Shakes. The energetic bunch have found the formula for bringing the best parts of 1980s new wave and the full sounds of ’60s pop to the 21st Century and still manage to make it sound new. Not only was the music fun, but the band was entertaining whether you were watching them at the foot of the stage or sitting at the bar enjoying your drink. Vocalist Lexy looks like Science of Sleep actor Gael Garcia Bernal and adopts Morrissey mannerisms onstage. This may grab your attention, but it’s his voice that really keeps you listening. The whole band just looked like they were having a great time, as well they should. “This is our first tour!” Lexy told me with excitement after their set.
Throwing a curve ball to the Indie Rock crowd, the second artist was actually a rapper. Busdriver is a guy who is unconventional enough in his hip-hop creations to have landed himself on Epitaph Records. He raps fast, but he’s got a melodic flow to his music. With the help of a DJ, his rhymes fall atop electronic beats that are not bass-heavy blasts of nonsense but follow a palatable verse-chorus-verse structure. His music style is unique, and his approach to winning over a crowd most likely not comprised of big rap fans is admirable. Within seconds onstage, Busdriver had everyone (myself included) unable to take their eyes off of him.
And then there was Deerhoof. On a dark stage, lit only by a spinning circle of lights behind the band, the experimental trio from California appeared. Between the number of eyes which stood mesmerized staring at the band and the pockets of fans lost in trancelike dances, you would have thought something truly amazing was going down onstage. Deerhoof must be the be-all, end-all of Art Rock.
… or else people just want so badly for a band to be great that they take what they are given and escalate it to magical heights.
Deerhoof is a wonderfully interesting project, and bassist/vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki is as adorable as her voice is unique, but they didn’t pull me in. Hearing the insanely catchy “Plus 81” played live was great, and I still had the chorus implanted in my brain the next day, but as a live band they didn’t blow my mind.
…but, by the looks on the faces of the nearly sold-out crowd, I was in the minority.
To see more photos of this show, and others, go to www.jencray.com.