After an hour with Dan Deacon it’s easy to forget which way up is normal. This guy just does not follow the rules. Don’t believe me? Just look at this blatant disregard of the way things work on the indie/dance/rock scene:
Let someone else build your stage. Following the support acts, a crowd of groupies descend and start building the stage. And in the midst of it Dan appears nonchalantly. None of the pretentious grand entrance you’d find from many lesser-known stars.
Now in my books, a soundcheck should sound all discordant and experimental. Dan at once starts playing with what I guess you would call his instrument. All knobs and leads secured with varying shades of pastel tape. A green skull on a pole is constructed behind the large bespectacled artist, looking like the ackward uncle at christmas meal. the uncle that spent his formative years glueing bits of technology together with serendipity and randomness as the only guide. The soundcheck is so melodic that at times the throngs in the beautifully baroque Great American Music Hall feel the show is about to start and hands start pumping in the air. It doesn’t and the Mr Deacon announces that he will take his leave to get ‘in the zone’.
And then it begins. Falsely. Since when do you cut your performance just as it’s begun? But about four bars in Dan isn’t happy. This is rubbish, he declares. Actually, on this point I really couldn’t tell whether this was all part of the script. The second start has more gravitas than the original offering. The band march on to a different beat with some force and we all enter the wonderful world of Dan Deacon.
All band members should share a similar aesthetic. If you’re an indie band, you need assymetrical haircuts and tight jeans. Meanwhile, our man Dan is in shorts and T-Shirt and his surrounding ensemble are fresh faced and energetic enough to appear like a mini youth orchestra who hone their skills during recess.
If you look like (uncle) geek, make geek music. Keep your drum patterns 8-bit and heavily syncopated. Once more, here Mr Deacon falls down. The sound is big, tribal and proggy. More African in feel than some of the micro-beats of his early recordings. Just as the sound spazzes out into a huge cacophonous drone – it all shatters into miniature plinks on a zylophone. The firm hand of method underpins the madness and the band can turn on a penny. But none of this helps the music journos know where to place your genre-bending antics, Dan.
Build a sense of awe by distancing yourself from your audience. After about three songs, Dan eschews yet another standard of the rock/indie event and dives into the midst of his adoring crowd and…. splits them in half. In the middle of the dancefloor he orchestrates a dance-off contest. As if this isn’t enough, before you know it he’s building human tunnels and marching the crowd around the Great American Music Hall. Like some big social experiment in moving people around ornate civic spaces.
I rest my case
What can I say. If you like breaking down barriers and challenging the established way we do things, then give Dan Deacon a whirl. Just be prepared for the unexpected. Welcome to the world of the bastard mutant lovechild of Sigur Ros and and some Little Britain character that happens to hail from Baltimore.