Liverpool Music Week Closing Party: Deerhunter Review

For the closing event of Liverpool Music Week, taking place at the lively Camp & Furnace Venue on Halloween night, attendees were treated to numerous lively performances by artists including Holy Holy, Gang of Four and LA Priest, but perhaps the biggest highlight was the performance of the American band, Deerhunter, a self-proclaimed “ambient punk” band hot off the release of their outstanding new record, Fading Frontier.        

Perhaps slightly earlier than expected, Deerhunter, led by the immediately recognizable figure of Bradford Cox, took to the stage to begin one of the most interesting sound checks I have ever seen, with interesting guitar improvisation and nonsensical shouting from both Bradford Cox and Lockett Pundt.

To my surprise, Deerhunter opened their set with a lively rendition of one of my favourite of their songs, “Desire Lines,” off of their 2010 release, Halcyon Digest, largely considered to be their best and most successful album. Almost right away I noticed that the sound was a little off, resulting in slightly subdued vocals while Bradford’s guitar was drowned out by Lockett’s. Unfortunately, for a band most memorable for their interchanging guitar melodies, this was perhaps the biggest issue with the show as a whole. When you listen to a song by Deerhunter, perhaps the most striking thing you notice is their phenomenal guitar work, and since the two guitars were not properly balanced sonically, the music lost a bit of its trademark mesmerizing quality. It was particularly jarring when the group performed the track “Living My Life,” because Bradford changed mics during the performance (he had been at a keyboard for the beginning of the track), and the second mic he was using wasn’t even turned on, unbeknownst to the band themselves.

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Image taken from Deerhunter’s Facebook page.

For the most of the show Deerhunter stuck to material from Halcyon Digest as well as their latest release, Fading Frontier. I suppose from a logistical standpoint this makes sense; the band only had a little over an hour to perform so playing hits from their most successful album as well as their newest was completely justified. As a Deerhunter-devotee, I was excited to hear them play nothing but the best songs off of arguably their two best records, although I was shocked to see that they skipped “Snakeskin,” which is the lead single from Fading Frontier. It’s hard to complain about a performance that included tracks like, “Revival,” “Duplex Planet,” and “Don’t Cry,” which, in my opinion, rank among the finest alternative rock songs of this decade. It’s still a little unfortunate that the sound was a little off but to my delight Bradford noticed this midway through the show and got the volume levels sorted for the remainder of the show.

Deerhunter ended their performance by performing an extensive coda to what I think was a track off of Microcastle, one of their earliest releases. It was honestly hard to tell what song was being performed because so much of it involved heavy improvisation from both guitar players, resulting in as absolutely mesmerizing psychedelic soundscape coming from the various back-and-forths between Bradford and Lockett. It’s honestly mind-blowing seeing what these two men are capable of doing with their guitars, and even someone who had never heard of Deerhunter before would have undoubtedly been impressed with the finale to this show. It’s unfortunate that they weren’t able to get the audio issues sorted out earlier into the show because, for the most part, Deerhunter’s performance was absolutely incredible and a phenomenal way to spend Halloween night.

Hear more from Deerhunter: Take a look at their website at http://deerhuntermusic.com

Deerhunter’s album is available to buy or download on iTunes here:  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/deerhunter/id210056561

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