Upon entry to the Rainbow it became very clear what kind of audience Deerhoof draws. Scrawny white dudes with obscure band T-shirts make up at least 80% of the room. The author is one himself and felt like he had got lost in the hall of mirrors. The Rainbow venue also seems like a cliché made out of brick. If there are any location scouts reading looking for a small, grimy rock venue then look no further. Dear Rainbow management, buy air con.
Local band Dorcha are on first and have the monumental task of squeezing eight members plus instruments on a stage the size of a patio. Their sound is this experimental sonic wave and there are several moments in their set when all the elements, including synths, drums and a pair of violins click. This many instruments must be a nightmare to mix live so we do have a few songs which are a little hard on the ears, but Dorcha should persevere, with a little more practice they could be something special.
Next up is Cowtown, a two piece band on tour with Deerhoof. After the interesting but pretty exhausting Dorcha, Cowtown really blow away the cobwebs. They sound like Talking Heads by way of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and their fun, crunchy riffs and put everyone in the right mood for what’s to follow.
Deerhoof, who have been politely watched the support at the side of the venue the whole night decide to open with “Paradise Girls”. Satomi Matsuzaki’s articulation makes the chorus line “Girls”, sound like “cows”, which makes the song hilarious as well as ridiculously danceable. Following up with the relatively catchy “Doom”, there is a fear that this might turn into new album only territory, but it’s actually quite the opposite and all the albums of the last decade are represented here. This does mean they leave out “Milkman”, which breaks this little author’s heart, but it’s a positive that they have so much good material that they can’t begin to get through half of it on an eighteen song set.
Punctuating the set every six songs or so are drummer Greg Saunier’s abstract drawn-out monologues, which are not only extremely funny, but also a necessary break. Deerhoof’s music is so dense that an hour of it straight might be too much, especially for the newcomer. That said there are certainly members of the crowd who disagree and nearing the end of the third monologue, a member of the crowd located in the middle of what was the pit tells him to get the fuck on with it. The laugh that greets Saunier’s riposte shows the crowd is on the band’s side.
The encore involves Matsuzaki teaching the crowd the words to “Panda, Panda, Panda”. Everyone is drunk and no one can do anything beyond yell the title, but it remains a fun little finale and shows that although Deerhoof are an arty band they still know how to work a crowd and twenty years in, they’re still having fun.