Looking down on the audience at Dan Deacon’s show at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple on Thursday night was akin to watching a strange orgy or mating ritual of some kind. People in their teens and twenties swayed as a group, not moshing so much as just moving, touching each other – though there was crowd surfing involved.
For the overstimulated generation, it’s easy to see how someone like Deacon can make a killing. Every piece of his electro-dance-pop pulsates constantly, relentlessly – loads of drums, computers and synthesizers chugging at full speed. Having a “15-piece” ensemble (so he claimed, though the most counted on stage at one point was closer to 10) made Deacon’s robustness that much more boisterous, with nary a break, except in the middle of the set, where he took advantage of So Percussion (the apt-named, Steve Reich-loving openers) and their xylophones for a twinkling number or two – both of which naturally evolved back into Deacon’s overdrive in due time.
The Masonic Temple, however, is a dubious front of a music venue, and it was hard to hear what, exactly, Deacon was doing with the mic. When he disappeared into the crowd for most of the set, no one walking in would have had any idea of the bearded man in glasses and a plaid shirt leading the effrontery on the stage. Deacon himself was noticeably angered by this, doing multiple sound checks and announcing after the first song, “Well, this so far is a nightmare. Let’s see if we can take over the nightmare, and have sex with the nightmare.”
The shoddy sound system may have won the battle, but it could easy be argued that Deacon got his “sex with the nightmare.” Encouraging people to touch each others’ heads, and to make a giant arch for the crowd to pass through, it was a modern reincarnation of the more sensational aspects of concert hippies: Hey, this music makes me want to get high/drunk and dance/touch each other.
Though openers Dirty Projectors delivered an intense and beautiful set of avant-pop driven by alternating and occasionally crushing guitars and exhaled, panting vocals, they suffered a similar defeat to the mediocre technology of the Masonic Temple. As with Deacon, they’re best served by the ability to decipher every intricacy. Through no fault of any of the artists, the evening was far from disappointing, but also missed the mark set by its possibilities, ultimately begging the question, “Who thought it was a good idea to turn this place into a venue?”