Review: Deerhunter @ Scala, May 18th.

Deerhunter @ Scala, May 18th 09.

When Karen-O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs claims a band’s live show is the equivalent of ‘a religious experience’ you get excited, very excited.

So I entered Scala in Kings Cross for Deerhunter‘s rescheduled gig with her words of admiration as fresh in my mind as the band in question’s superb latest album ‘Microcastle’. From the moment the Atlanta four-piece take the stage they create a wall of noise which is only interrupted by a broken string and frontman Brandon Cox’s occasional charismatic exchanges with the crowd including a lesson on how to (not so) quickly change said string.

Bradford Cox’s supremely skinny frame stands almost skeleton like at stage front but as soon as he opens his mouth he creates an almost God like wail which through the use of some of the most insane effects pedals I’ve ever heard reverberate around the sizeable arena to the point where you think he may just swallow the room. Impressive, yes. Scary, sometimes! These wails are to become a recurring theme throughout the evening along with a relentless rhythm section and strange sound effects. When the wall of noise does ease off it’s usually to give way to a wonderful psychedelic, jangly guitar line like early on in the set with ‘Wash Off’ and it’s repeated chorus of ‘I Was 16’, ringing around the room only to once again be replaced by a barrage 0f intense riffing.

We’re treated to an array of tracks from ‘Microcastle’ including ‘Little Kids’ with it’s more laid back surfy vibe and ‘Nothing Ever Happened’ which gives the band the opportunity to have a bit of a jam. After Brandon’s new string is in place though comes time for a new song the title track from the band’s ‘Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP’. It just about pips an encore version of ‘Agrophobia’ as my favourite song of the evening – yep it’s that good. Like a lot of my favourites on the night it has a psychedelic, surfy vibe to it close to Animal Collective’s sound but all the while unmistakeably Deerhunter thanks to Brandon’s impressive vocal line. You have no choice to get completely involved in these songs, consumed almost. Karen O’s comments are starting to make perfect sense.

Although Brandon early on claims he’s tired after playing All Tomorrows Parties Festival days before, I don’t really see much sign of it. He even refuses to let the crowd go after their set is done until we’ve sung two versions of happy birthday to their soundman, their friend and crowd member who he invites on stage. Brandford dominates both renditions with his warped, echoed vocals so much so that you get the impression it’s just more opportunity for him to hold the limelight. As with the rest of the performance it is surreal but utterly engaging.

mp3: Deerhunter – Rainwater Cassette Exchange

Buy: Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP

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