No Age/Dan Deacon/Deerhunter
Sunday, August 2, early show
The story of this past weekend’s outdoor festivities was, regrettably, the grumbling skies. No different with Sunday’s installment of Jelly NYC’s Pool Parties, which for the second weekend in a row, saw its idyllic skyline setting threatened due to an ugly, and seemingly relentless, downpour. So we learned mid-afternoon via e-mail, text message, and Twitter that the long-awaited, entirely excellent Deerhunter/No Age/Dan Deacon headlining bill would be the first-ever Pool Party held indoors, postponed a few hours (doors went from 2pm to 6pm), and relocated nearby to the freshly opened Brooklyn Bowl. The unfortunate consequences of the venue move? Capacity was limited, the VIP list erased, no ogling at/judging dodgeball players. The positive? The show would still go on, and it would go on twice–once around 7:30 pm, and again around 10 pm–and there would be no ogling at/judging dodgeball players.
Initially, there were a few obstacles to contend with inside. For one, the late-day (and fickle) sun had wreaked smelly havoc on all these unshowered weekend warriors and the body odor factor on the Brooklyn Bowl floor was unbearably high. For two, people seemed both testy and impatient after all the changed plans–saw three dudely shoving matches erupt in the crowd. But the stink and the tension started to quell once openers White Rainbow and Infinite Body took the stage, fellas separately seated inconspicuously behind equipment, oozing out ambient drones. Then came Ed Schrader, a Baltimore personality and Dan Deacon associate whose schtick used to be a middling stand-up routine, but instead today stood before us with an eerily daft grin, banging away on a floor tom while bellowing nonsensical chants like “I think I’m a ghost” and dedicating one goofball ditty to the enormous helicopter-rotor of a ceiling fan above. This new persona is, too, something of a schtick–but it’s delivered with such intensely powerful focus that it transcends sheer novelty and, is frankly, pretty awesome. Major accomplishment: getting a once-grumpy crowd to sing along with the weirdly descriptive refrain “Beautiful transvestite in the rain” without even asking.
At long last, our beloved headliners. For those of us who got here, inside for the first show–by determined patience, monkey’s paw, or divine publicist intervention–to see some of our favorite bands onstage, all together, in a kind of killer-performance firing squad, it really was worth the wait. These guys seperately are sights to behold. Dan Deacon’s the loony, lovably emcee who wears strap-on glasses, rallies dance contests, and employs a mechanized chipmunk falsetto in between electro-spazz jams. No Age are lo-fi brilliance of short, frantic, anthemic bursts and Randy Randall monitor leaps. Deerhunter are shoegaze genius with near-perfect pedal swells and a loquacious, unbelievably prolific frontman. Together, all of them onstage at once, collectively tearing into Deerhunter’s “Cryptograms” and recasting it as a monster tag-team jam, was, at least to my mind, some completely thrilling shit.
Holding true the seemingly ambituous, but ultimately rewarding round robin set-up,the show played out like a highlight reel. One No Age rendition of “Eraser,” one Randy Randall jumping off Dean Spunt’s drum set. One Dan Deacon “Snookered,” one group dance-instructional to follow the arm-waving antics of a random dude in a mustard shirt. One perfect “Nothing Ever Happened,” one Bradford Cox mini-speech. And on and on and on, not necessarily in that order, but four or five songs a piece, until Randy Randall fell backwards into the crowd and did his usual guitar-surfing finale. Dan Deacon followed his lead and crowd-surfed too, which is the first time I’ve ever seen him do that. He seemed to feel kind of guilty about it. As we were all walking out, he bid, “Thank you for holding me up–I know I’m overweight.”