Reviews

Deerhoof

Megan Milks

Shin Splints, Arachnogasmic Musicals, and a regrettable lack of hooves.

Deerhoof

Deerhoof

City: Philadelphia
Venue: First Unitarian Church
Date: 2006-01-29

I did not see Deerhoof. I went to see Deerhoof. That was my assignment; that was my goal; that was my planned "Fun Time" for the week. Why did I not see Deerhoof? I did not see Deerhoof because of fatigue, shin splints, a developing cold, and because I entered a mood I like to call "Pissed off." Why was I "Pissed Off?" Not because of the fatigue, shin splints, and/or cold. It was because I was made to get up from my nice, cushy seat in the First Unitarian Church's sanctuary (which has stained-glass windows! and other exciting décor) where I took in Le Ton Mite's adult-child genius and the herky-jerky videos of Martha Colburn, to be herded into a considerably smaller, hotter, much less comfortable auxiliary room downstairs. It was here that we were to watch another opening act -- a dance troupe that I couldn't even see, you stupid tall boys with intrusive haircuts -- and the headliner. That headliner would be Deerhoof. I did not see Deerhoof. I couldn't take it. I had to leave. I can't stand watching shows in an overcrowded, church-smelly box when there's no beer. I'm not an alcoholic; I'm just old, and increasingly high-maintenance. Who's with me? Aren't you sick of forking over your hard-earned cash to troll around boxy rooms, looking for some semblance of spatial comfort in the midst of elbowing, poor ventilation, lack of a coat check, and a general inability to see the band? Concertgoers of America, we deserve better. I'm 24. I'm old. I've been concert-hopping since I was a wee young thing, and I've done my time. Now, when I go to a show, I want to be able to 1) see the band, 2) have enough room to pull my bag off one shoulder and onto the other one without having to say "sorry, didn't mean to touch your ass", 3) feel comfortable -- that is, not sweating -- while wearing T-shirt and jeans, and 4) drink beer. Coat checks are great, but not necessary. Clean bathrooms terrific, too, but again, unnecessary. I'll settle for five minutes of rankness if only the two- to three-hour concert experience were a little more cheery. I miss the Black Cat. I miss the 9:30 Club. I miss IOTA and Warehouse Next Door. I love Philadelphia a thousand times more than I loved DC, but I do not love the First Unitarian Church. I hope to god that r5 Productions, those wonderful people bringing the beat of emerging talent to the City of Brotherly Love, uses its money to find a better venue for their bigger shows. I know the all-ages thing is a setback, and you are right to want to serve the young ones. I'll be okay without beer, just get a better space. Now, on to the show. At least the part that I saw. Le Ton Mite is an experimental folksinger/performance artist so low-culture, he's fricking avant-garde. On stage was a one-dude, five-or-six-puppet outfit with a backdrop of whimsical palm trees. These weren't fancy-pants puppets, btw; these were cardboard cutouts glued to popsicle sticks. Rad. With much let's-pretend-we're-kindergartners wit, dude proceeded to play such charming singalongs as "Ten Miles to Go and No Gas in the Car" and "Everybody's Connected", featuring Mort the Drunk and Val the Sexy Parrot. Piddles the Dog led us in a singalong that went "ha ha ha ha ha," then "ho ho ho ho ho," and finally "hee hee hee hee hee," and we all had a grand old time, except for those of us who thought it was stupid. Le Ton Mite was completely zany and crackhead cool. I was won over; wished I had brought my kids. I don't have any kids. Gotcha. Was that stupid? Next thing: fade to black, and we got to see some of multimedia artist Martha Colburn's film shorts, which were mainly collagistic animations using found art and hand-colored film. Each short was exquisitely constructed and wickedly oppressive in its hypercharged sexuality, jittery feel, and rawkous soundtrack. "Cats Amore" dealt with feminization, felinization, and the fetishization of both. That is, Colburn clomped together sexed-up female bodies and cat heads, then made these half-and-half creatures the object of much dog-head panting and eye-popping. Its point was pretty obvious, but the effect it had on the viewer was more interesting, as the overbearing jerkiness of Colburn's animation technique felt violent when paired with such leering, grotesque images, most especially when overlaid with a disorienting soundtrack. "Spiders in Love: An Arachnogasmic Musical" was similarly unsettling. This one moved even faster, and combined spider imagery with glammed-up female faces, exploring the black-widow stereotype and castration anxiety. Throughout the film, femmed-up, lipsticked spiders suck up detached penises while the soundtrack shrieks with horns. Skulls flash on and off, and sexualized pairs of human lips jump in and out of the mix, linking hunger and sex with death. Colburn's work is darkly comic, grotesque, mesmerizing, exhibitionist. She forces voyeurism upon her viewers, then punishes them for participating. Yeah, yeah, S&M is so trendy now, I probably shouldn't mention it in reference here, but it fits. I felt like Colburn's freakfrenzy of images whipped me into submission, got me off, then left me feeling dirty, guilty, and ashamed. But dammit, I liked it. I liked it a lot. And I was all set for the Leg & Pants Dans Theater when They (meaning the person on the loudspeaker) made us get up and shuffle downstairs into a stuffy, packed room that I just couldn't stay in for very long. Bye-bye, Leg & Pants, I waved. Bye-bye, Deerhoof. I'm sure you rocked hard, but me and my shin splints had to go home and mull over the politics of the concert venue. A shame, that, but we'll meet again most assuredly. Until then, au revior. Next page: Nate Dorr on Deerhoof.
Pages: 1   2

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless musical spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 1, Gang of Four to the Birthday Party

If we must #quarantine, at least give us some post-punk. This week we are revisiting the best post-punk albums of all-time and we kick things off with Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd., Throbbing Gristle, and more.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.