Deerhunter shoegaze the night away at theatre plaza

A sizeable crowd filled Montreal’s lofty old Theatre Plaza early on Thursday night, proving Deerhunter’s recent growth in popularity, as the band tours in support of their newest release, Microcastle.
Starting off the show was the cheery and atmospheric Calgary-based Times New Viking. It was painfully obvious they’re big fans of Animal Collective – a band known for its originality and experimentation – but the flattery was really a stolen page of cues and parameters from the AC play book; new bands shouldn’t eschew niche-bandwagoning so blatantly, even if it is audibly sincere.
Neighborhood Council, the follow-up act, was awful. They were a laughable stage-spectacle, with little coordination and less stage presence. During the show, the drummer/front man sat on a lawn chair in front of the kit banging away with no respect to cues given by band mates. After prefacing one song with the announcement, “this song is about drugs,” the band abruptly stopped playing 45 seconds into it, with the explanation that it was the wrong song. It’s okay to be a stoner rock ensemble, but when you’re up on the stage you have to remember you’re not fucking around in your friend’s basement anymore.
Finally, the headliner: Deerhunter – a relief from the aforementioned poseur/stoners. They started their set off with the hypnotic intro from Microcastle, as lead singer Bradford Cox’s croons emerged draped in reverb, while the entire band stood stoic and expressionless. They then followed with “Cover Me (Slowly),” after breaking for a moment to have the sound man turn on the monitors – with Bradford apologizing if he had been off a little. Despite a few technical problems, Deerhunter played a well-paced set including older songs from last year’s highly acclaimed Cryptograms, the Florescent Grey EP, and the Weird Era Cont. bonus disc.
Despite being referred to as ambient-punk and shoegaze, Deerhunter managed to lift the lids from their Converses during the bombastic “Nothing Really Happened,” with the crowd bouncing up and down in a spirited gesture. But their strength is lethargic dreamy soundscapes, which dominated most of the night’s performance.
After returning to the stage for an encore, Cox dropped to his knees, laying flat on the stage while guitarist Whitney Petty did a handstand in front of him – giving final evidence that, while the band takes themselves somewhat seriously, they were enjoying their time spent on the road being musicians.


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