Words and Pictures by Kirstie Shanley
It’s hard to believe that Deerhoof, the four-piece band out of San Francisco, California, just released its 13th album and has been a band for 12 years. Touring to support their latest full-length, Offend Maggie, the band has definitely refined their unique sound during these years, yet they still maintain the energy, excitement, and cutting edge quality of newer bands. In other words, Deerhoof carry no baggage but instead sound as fresh and inviting as ever.
This excitement really shone through at their packed show in Chicago. Lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki not only demonstrated an awesome chemistry with her band members -- play fighting and jumping on amps -- but she also interacted with the audience, spreading around bags of tortilla chips and loaves of bread. She possessed an ease and sense of happiness that projected well across the audience and made the evening infinitely more enjoyable.
The band concentrated on their most recent albums, but the flow of the overall set had an unexpected quality considering the jarring transitions between some of the individual song’s verses and choruses. Despite the idiosyncratic rhythm patterns and other aspects of their sound, Deerhoof always come off as really tight live and stay essentially true to their recordings.
This show was definitely no exception with band members willing to start and stop on a dime. Matsuzaki’s vocals – in English and Japanese -- filled up these songs with an enchanting feminine and repetitive element that fit well with the musical accompaniment. It’s true that Deerhoof manages to create something truly original, which is quite something in this day and age. However, the true talent of its four members lies perhaps in their ability to take their eccentric chord changes, rhythms, timing, and vocals and somehow transform them into interesting pop songs.