Deerhunter
Elsewhere; Brooklyn, NY

When yours truly reported that Deerhunter would be performing at Elsewhere in Brooklyn ahead of their European tour, I knew that I had to be there. Deerhunter has been one of my favorite bands since I found out Deerhunter was a band that existed, and Elsewhere is a space that is (1) on the smaller side, and (2) a convenient 20-minute walk from my apartment. You’re telling me I get to see a band I love play in a small venue that’s so close to where I live that I don’t have to take the janky subway, and — most appealingly — can be back home before midnight??? The money couldn’t fly out of my bank account fast enough.

After arriving not early enough to secure a copy of the band’s limited-edition, tour-only cassette, I claim my spot on the floor. I need time to gather my thoughts. There is some degree of uncertainty going into this show: Deerhunter had made promises of new material being played by a new lineup. What direction would Deerhunter be taking their sound with this new material? Am I going to like what I hear? And what of this new lineup? Would my favorite Deerhunters still be in Deerhunter? What will these new members look like? Is Bradford Cox’s dog Faulkner making an appearance? Could Faulkner and my dog Simon be friends? How can I train Simon to stop jumping on people?

By the time my mind stop wandering, it’s 10:30 PM, and Deerhunter take the stage. In a dramatic turn of events, the new lineup is pretty much the same old lineup (Cox, drummer Moses Archuleta, bassist Josh McKay, and guitarist Lockett Pundt) with touring keyboardist Javier Morales appearing to have become a full-time member. Technically a new lineup, I guess, but not like new new.

The existential crisis over what “new” means quickly washes away however, as the band launches into an approximately 80-minute set, the first half of which is largely dominated by a heap of, as promised, brand new material. As best as I can recall, the songs had a vibe that felt somewhere in between Fading Frontier and Halcyon Digest, with some Cryptograms-esque ambient-shoegaze instrumentals thrown in for good measure. My “analysis” could prove to be way off-base by the time Deerhunter’s new album is released later this year (and those instrumentals could have just been creative ways to transition between songs, as the band is wont to do live). But, for hearing the songs once while simultaneously trying to comprehend what I just heard, that’s the description I’ve got. I don’t know, they sounded really good! Should be a good sign for the album!

The rest of the set features some of the “hits” — the likes of “Revival,” “Desire Lines,” and “Agoraphobia” — and includes an extra-long take on Halcyon Digest closer “He Would Have Laughed.”

…And then Bradford brings three-fourths of Animal Collective onto stage to perform an impromptu jam, and I get to be part of a moment that the entire blogosphere is just abuzz about! Oh wait, no I didn’t, that happens the next night at Le Poisson Rouge. (No, I’m not bitter at all! Is there an iPhone-shaped hole in the wall across from where I was sitting when I read what I had missed out on? Of course! But I’m not bitter!)

Regardless, having now seen Deerhunter live around seven times, I never cease to be amazed by how… well, great they are. Whether indoors or out, over various album cycles, and through lineup changes both real and imagined, they always deliver an exciting, energized, entrancing show. Nothing seems to phase them. If they come to a town near you, you should see them. There’s truly nothing like a great Deerhunter show to soothe the pain of arriving home several minutes after midnight on a weekday.

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