I was a little disappointed to realize that Dan Deacon, an artist who continues to take risks and gleefully subvert expectations on record, has distilled his live performances to an exact science. On Saturday night at the El Rey Theatre, audience members got exactly what they paid for: bludgeoning waves of schizophrenic noise-pop, elaborate exercises in audience participation, and the requisite series of off-kilter and hilarious rants from Deacon himself. The crowd parted to accommodate dance-offs (in both solo and group interpretive formats), whipped itself into a frenzy to create the trademark “human spiral,” and rested their hands on the heads of the people in front of them during the meditative intro to “Snookered”. A particularly friendly audience member lovingly nuzzled my hair during this portion of the evening; I was too shy to turn around afterwards.
Oh, and there was also music being played; with the help of two drummers and an auxiliary instrumentalist, Deacon performed pulverizing renditions of several cuts from America as well as mainstays like “Wham City” and “Of the Mountains”, where Deacon’s trademark chipmunk vocal effects got their moment in the sun. The much-touted Dan Deacon App was used to liven up “True Thrush”, when the audience’s flashing Technicolor phones provided the only source of light in the venue. Even if the participatory nature of Deacon’s shows has become somewhat formulaic, all of that tends to fly out the window when you’re down on one knee at the behest of this mad scientist, whispering sweet nothings into your own palm about the use of a friend’s HBO Go subscription. I guess you had to be there.
--Zach, Negative Fun