Review: Deerhoof at Turner Hall Ballroom

Photo and story by Brian Whitney

Everything you know is wrong. That’s how it feels watching Deerhoof.

The music of San Francisco quartet Deerhoof would be a sore thumb on any hand, and trying to find a parallel for their mix of minimalist rock and bombastic, avant-jazz proves difficult. Like the electric Dylan at Newport, it’s not even fair to describe Deerhoof’s music as “ahead of its time” because, honestly, it’s hard to tell if such a time could ever exist at all. That being said, it’s not difficult to surmise why Turner Hall was half-empty last night, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

Also puzzling was the venue’s decision to cover two-thirds of the open floor with chairs. They may have been unfamiliar with the band’s live show, and instead based this decision on the somewhat lighter approach the band takes on their latest record, Offend Maggie. But it was an oversight and probably a bit of a buzz-kill for the band – not that they let it show. In fact, it’s rare to see a band that has more fun performing.

The band roared out of the gate, playing a set that favored exuberance over melody, which was most certainly to their benefit. New rhythm guitarist Ed Rodriguez (who is a Waukesha native, almost making up for Frank Caliendo) fit into the group seamlessly; he was deftly able to follow drummer Greg Saunier’s tempo and feel. Only The Who rocks as wholeheartedly and recklessly when it comes to bands built around the drummer.

Strangely, The Who are an appropriate parallel for Deerhoof, with the main difference being that Deerhoof skews more towards the avantgarde. Deerhoof seem entirely content to rock on their own strange terms, even if it means the hall is only half full (or half empty, if you really want to get into that Intro to Psychology sort of thing.) It ultimately doesn’t matter, as the band is able to rock a crowd of pretty much any size and have a really good time doing so.


5 Responses to “Review: Deerhoof at Turner Hall Ballroom”

  1. Andrew Says:

    I always thought the opening to “Milkman” had a “Tommy”-esque overture feel to it.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    That show ruled. This article also ruled.

  3. DrAwkward Says:

    Rumor has it that David Byrne was at this show and was seen declaring “Holy shit!” after seeing Deerhoof. And by “rumor has it,” i mean “he walked right past Dixie from WWC while exclaiming ‘Holy shit!’ upon seeing Deerhoof.”


  4. Anonymous Says:

    So that WAS David Byrne! Incredible!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    yeah, i saw david byrne too. he played at the pabst earlier that night i think.


    ps, thanks for the props “anonymous”.

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