Brudenell Social Club was completely sold out for the arrival of Deerhoof with support from local bright sparks Cowtown. They had supported Deerhoof on the previous shows in this tour and this unique outfit had an instant impact on the capacity crowd.
The first quirk of the band you notice is that the bass parts are all played by Hilary Cowtown, an accomplished keys player, on a bass synth via a keyboard. This adds real depth, swagger, and tact to their hyper active songs. The backbone of these progressive and intoxicating numbers consists of some genuinely impressive drumming from Dave Shields. Despite the frantic nature of the cymbal heavy drum parts they remain intricate and stylish, we certainly aren’t talking about a guy simply hammering the kit.
The spine of the band is capable of holding your attention on its own, but it is vastly elevated by the performance of Jonathan Nash on guitar and lead vocals. His guitar riffs build towards joyous highs and they almost have a freeform feel to them. His vocals effortlessly flow from calming to elated and back again. Cowtown set the bar incredibly high and the audience took an instant shine to them both for their gripping music and their quirky crowd banter.
The sense of anticipation was noticeable amongst the gathered fanatics as Deerhoof took to the stage amidst rapturous applause. From the offset it feels almost like an intentionally shambolic set with no defining plan, but clearly there is one as the collective genius of Deerhoof always shines through in the end. Each track gives the impression of four musicians battling to be heard above the others before they join together in perfect symmetry to produce moments of sheer brilliance. They are so experimental that you aren’t always sure if the different things they are doing even fit together to begin with, but by the end of the piece you are fully onboard with what they are achieving and you stare in owe of their creativity.
Two thirds of the way through “Let’s Dance The Jet”, from their 2011 album Deerhoof vs. Evil, drummer Greg Sauiner leaves his kit and walks over to the mic. The rest of the band pause allowing him to regale the audience in his own offbeat style with the story of how parts of that album were actually recorded here at the Brudenell. After he has delivered his story, in a manner reminiscent of an Andy Kaufman character, the band pick up from where they left off.
It was then the turn of lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki to entertain the crowd with her edgy dance moves which look like a choreographed version of the kind of dancing Ian Curtis used to do. Sauiner then arrived at the microphone again to tell us all about how the tour had gone so far. This address was given in the style of an extract from the journals of Sir Edmund Hillary before an audience member presented him with a cuddly toy “Nessie”.