Friday, October 15, 2010

Show Review: Deerhoof, Xiu Xiu, Father Murphy @ Daniel Street

Words: Monica Lyons
Pics: John Kritzman Full set of photos here!

Click on the images to makes them larger!

If you weren’t on Daniel St in Milford on Tuesday, October 12th, you missed out on a sweet show.

Daniel St is a great venue for its suave, jazzy atmosphere and produces excellent sound quality for listening to bands at their best. It definitely proved true for the Father Murphy, Xiu Xiu, and Deerhoof, which played that night.

First to open for the night was Father Murphy, a three piece experimental band from Italy. Since I hadn’t heard of them before, I was surprised to see the guy casually smoking a cigarette outside of the venue moments before was actually their singer. Without an introduction, they began to play. Father Murphy is definitely an art form. They are weird, but a brilliant kind of weird. I’m not sure how to describe their music, but they have been defined as being a little folk, post punk math rock, and avant noise. It is obvious that Father Murphy knows what they’re doing, as the sporadic rhythms from guitarist Freddie Murphy and drummer Vicar Demarin synched up well with keyboardist Chiara Lee, as she even banged a gong, chimed cymbals, and rang old, rustic looking bells. I found their music both eerie and strange, but it is really up for interpretation. Though Murphy chanted and screeched with raw emotion into the microphone, I was surprised to how soft spoken and gentile he sounded while thanking Xiu Xiu and Deerhoof during their set. While talking with Father Murphy after the show, through their thick accents they explained that this was their third time in the United States but their first time in Connecticut. If they ever decide to come back to Connecticut, I suggest you go to their show. Maybe you’ll know what I’m talking about.

While Father Murphy had all the bells, Xiu Xiu was ready with both the bells and whistles. In another oblivious state, I passed the two piece band on the street while walking toward the venue without realizing who they were. Xiu Xiu (pronounced “shoe shoe”) consists of three members, though their percussionist wasn’t present to accompany singer-songwriter Jamie Stuart and multi-instrumentalist Angela Seo. Their performance certainly didn’t skip a beat as the duo blasted beats from a drum machine and banged on single hi-hats and cymbals all while playing a keyboard, guitar, and a few odd end instruments. During one song, Seo hit her cymbal so hard that she knocked it over into the crowd. Luckily, a guy in front was nice enough to push it back to the stage, causing her to crack a smile. Stewart hunched over the microphone as if he were passionately telling a story; whispering, yelling, and wailing while strumming hard on his guitar, at one point even with a drum stick. He hopped around as Seo played her keyboard with a grim expression of serious concentration. In something I’ve never seen on stage before, Stuart pulled out a Nintendo DS to tap beats for their song “I Luv the Valley Oh” all while singing. It didn’t stop there, as their songs had Seo using different mouth instruments and bells while Stewart blew into a whistle. Similar to Father Murphy, Xiu Xiu stands alone in their music genre, though they have been described as art rock, experimental rock, indie rock, and synth pop. I will tell you, they are like nothing you’ve ever heard before, but still had the crowd moving with them. After they played their last song, I heard someone behind me say, “Well that was interesting.” I’d take that as a compliment.

Looking back into the crowd, I realized now that the room was packed, anxiously waiting for Deerhoof to perform. If I’ve heard anything about Deerhoof, it’s been of inspiration. As evident with Father Murphy and Xiu Xiu, Deerhoof has been notably influential to bands such as The Flaming Lips, Of Montreal, Fiery Furnaces, Sufijan Stevens, and several other new and old artists of the indie scene. Originating back to 1994, Deerhoof has made a name for themselves and didn’t have to prove it to anyone that night.

In black spandex, jean shorts, and a red sweatshirt, front woman Satomi Matsuzaki came on stage to plug in guitars and set up microphones amongst her three male band mates. After a quick wardrobe change, she slung a bass over her tiny frame as the crowd cheered and began dancing to their opening song “The Tears of Music and Love.” With Greg Saunier set up on a small drum set in the front corner of the stage, guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez used the spacious room on stage to step in almost synchronization alongside Matsuzak as she danced around, playing bass and singing. This band looked like they were having a lot of fun as Rodriguez and Matsuzaki laughed with each other and improvised coordinating dance moves throughout their songs. Matsuzaki even jumped to the front ledge of the stage to be up close with the audience. Deerhoof had such a positive energy that had most of the audience smiling back at them. It really felt as though they were all best friends just jamming and having fun together.

Saunier showed his personality as he randomly delivered hilarious Gilbert Grape style speeches in which he talked about the tour, venue, and how heat from the multi-colored spotlights were blazing on him, in which someone graciously lowered them. Saunier comically ended his speech with “Our music is about suffering.” Matzusaki had everyone give him an applause as she said “Thank you Greg!”

In all seriousness, Deerhoof is clearly multi-talented, as halfway through their set they switched instruments which put Matsuzaki on drums, Rodriguez on bass, and Saunier on guitar, to which he sang a song. As for the rest of the performance, Deerhoof’s set was of intelligence, sweet sounding vocals, and true innovation. Though the band takes their music seriously and performs flawlessly, they present themselves in a modest, carefree way, which is a comforting quality. Deerhoof played their last song and thanked the crowd only to return for an encore by the continuous applauding at the end of their set.

When the show was over and everyone was tired from a late night of music, only some of the crowd hung around the venue to talk to each other. While we were outside, we suddenly heard loud music coming from the stage once again. To my surprise, ALL members of Father Murphy, Xiu Xiu, and Deerhoof were playing onstage together in some sick, collaborated song.

I don’t know who came up with the idea or how, but it was awesome that they performed a personal show for the dedicated, lingering crowd. Through the yells and applause of the audience, the band members all hugged and shook hands with each other, seeming as though they formed great friendships during the tour. What a spectacular end to a great night.


Beverly Writer said...

that collaborative song was a cover of a joy division tune, fyi.

Brushback said...

Great pictures.

John K said...

Thanks Brushback, and thanks Bev, we kinda thought it was a Joy Division song but we weren't 100% sure.