It doesn't matter how many times you've seen Dan Deacon perform in the past -- you know you're going to be de-virginized in some manner with every performance. Walking into the industrial-basement confines of Portland's Branx on Saturday‚ I had no clue that the new wash of enlightenment to hit me that evening would be the realization that Deacon is nothing less than a spiraling beacon of good-will in the enigmatically dark reality we all exist in -- a Jedi controller of the force in a world where the Empire continues to grow stronger. Yeah that's right‚ I'm going there with this review.
This would be my first personal experience with the moat that separates the alcoholics in the Pacific Northwest from their underage cohorts‚ and Deacon himself began the show with a long‚ humorous rant about how the separation itself is a distinction that only Oregon and Washington adhere too‚ and thus should be celebrated for its uniqueness. You know‚ that's his kind of thing. After shouting‚ "It's Christmas Eve and we're all fucking Catholic!" he kicked in with one of the many new tunes that would emit from his chaos-board that evening. From the immediate‚ accidental unplugging of one of his sound devices during the first cut‚ it seemed that this crowd was waaaay more pumped up then they really needed to be. A mass of underaged ecstasy abusers began the evenings hallmark move of crowd-surfing til you nearly fall on the performers' gear‚ and it led Deacon early on to tell everyone they needed to chill the fuck out. Mimicking the brain-dead crowd-thrust they saw on recent Skrillex youtube videos‚ many in the crowd didn't seem aware of the distinctions in the vastness of "electronic" music in the world today‚ and presumably were imagining a dubstep bass wobble somewhere lost in the venue's shitty sub-woofers (or lack there of). But amidst the delusional youth‚ an even darker creature was lurking. Beginning with Deacon stopping a tune to tell somebody they needed to get a little farther away from him‚ the first glimpse arose of a far-too shiny bald-head of a far-too cranked out individual who was taking far-too a personal disliking to the rest of the crowd's joy. As another new tune ended‚ Dan commented that security might have to make the gentleman leave -- then quickly corrected himself by asking the crowd to make a circle in the middle of the floor in which the angry young individual would temporarily reside.
In a true testament to the power of the collective human spirit‚ Dan Deacon then led the crowd in directing the most hilarious and equally beautiful monologue towards the perturbed specimen. Confusing the demons inside‚ the man went from absurdly-agro air punching to serene lotus-position in the floor. The massive drum-attack from "Of the Mountains" slowly crept in‚ and the wounded soldier was swallowed by the collective soul-orgasm of the crowd. Long story short‚ the creeper found his way back up front by the end of the tune‚ totally molested a young girl‚ Deacon had him officially kicked out‚ and then became temporarily overwhelmed with regret and despair. In need of bringing spiritual redemption to himself and the room‚ the guru of modern sound manipulation then hosted a mass exorcism of everyone's personal demons. Hipsters‚ hippies‚ steam-punks‚ young ravers‚ old rockers‚ and the kitchen sink all embraced in a silent‚ humbled nest as the opening chimes of "Snookered" dripped down. In one of the most honest moments of collective human emotion I have ever personally experienced‚ the boundaries of modern society collapsed in something akin to the wet-dream of the Occupy Movement. I cried tears of joy‚ as did the old man to my right‚ as did the massively face-pierced girl to my left. Regardless of the epic music the man creates‚ Dan's real power comes in his explosions of sincerity and their astonishing ability to transcend into surrounding humans. By the time the chorus and half-time met near the end of "Snookered‚" the swell of the mob was pulsing in a true symphony of the bittersweet‚ and the lyrics seemed to be more relevant than ever before: "Been wrong so many times before‚ but never quite like this!"
Again‚ a majority of the tunes were new on Saturday‚ allegedly to be released on an album next summer‚ and several of them seemed still a bit cluttered. But the 2nd to last tune of the night fell into a dark‚ fast-funk before resolving into a spastic hymnal‚ and I'm burning to feel it again. Closing with a positively enormous "Wham City‚" the tune's pulsing‚ growing splendor served as a cap to a set of human emotion's full spectrum. As the house-lights came up in a comforting resolve and the crowd parted‚ I got my first glimpse of the evening of Deacon -- dripping in sweat‚ oversized glasses falling off‚ turquoise sweatpants‚ an 80's thrift-store t-shirt that's 4 sizes too small‚ hair in all the wrong places on his head -- and I almost called Oprah because the man looked like a god-damned angel.