Whenever I listen to Deerhoof, I think about my closet—specifically that it doesn’t contain nearly enough costumes. I have it on good authority that audiences in San Francisco are much more ostentatious in their rock show attire, and with homegrown acts like Deerhoof, it’s easy to see why. The words “pensive”, “brooding”, and “reflective” are moot here; ironic t-shirts and button-studded denim jackets do not suffice. Away with your gloom! These are songs for superheroes, radish spirits, and salt canister girls. On the heels of their March release, Milk Man, Deerhoof offer up the live document Bibidi Babidi Boo for free download on their website. So whatever crazy garb you feel like donning, you can do it up in the comfort of your own home or cubicle.
Most of Bibidi Babidi Boo‘s 10 songs represent Milk Man, starting with “Dummy Discards a Heart”. As Milk Man made its debut in March of ‘04, the decision to release these songs free via internet was the right one. The songs were recorded in various locales, from live shows to BBC appearances, and varying degrees of sonic quality and clarity bear this out. “Dog on the Sidewalk,” recorded in London, sounds a little thin, Satomi Matsuzaki’s pushed back and muffled in the mix. In bootleg terms, it’s a cut above audience-quality, but just a cut. The recording does have a charming club feel, but one wishes it had as much punch as “Milking” and “Giga Dance”. But then, would one be wishing too much for a song barely over one minute in length? Its miniature spindliness is effective in studio form, and in person at a show, the crowd is sucked right in. But there’s just no compelling reason to listen to Bibidi‘s versions over Milk Man‘s.
Even the best songs can be a bit redundant. The sinister Dracula-like stomp of “Giga Dance” is nearly as infectious as on the album proper, with its rhythmic breaks and dynamic shifts. The choppy guitar fills up the speakers, and the gentle vocal breaks are pristine, but following so closely on Milk Man‘s heels it’s a teaser at best, designed to spur your ass to the real thing. Or, if you’re coming at Deerhoof for the first time, it’s a quick glance at what they do, a treat, a bonus, a freebie in the age of fingerwagging downloading authorities. And it’s still undeniably fun. “Rainbow Silhouette of the Milky Rain” could’ve been the sleeper dance hit of the leap year. Bibidi Babidi Boo won’t replace having an icy cold one amongst pogoing hipsters, but Deerhoof is always inventive, smart, and playful, and you can never really have enough of that.