Deerhoof Agora des Arts, Rouyn-Noranda QC, September 3

Deerhoof Agora des Arts, Rouyn-Noranda QC, September 3
Photo: Kevin Jones
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With a career now spanning more than two decades, San Francisco's Deerhoof have logged stops all over the world, but last night (September 3) marked their first-ever visit to rural Quebec's Rouyn-Noranda. Delivering the same career-spanning setlist they've been touring around with for at least the past five months, in the converted chapel space of Agora des Arts, they still managed to provide audience members making repeat attendances with a unique experience, interacting with the crowd and reworking their music through improvisation as Deerhoof are wont to do (full disclosure: this was my second time seeing Deerhoof since April; the first was at Guelph, ON's Kazoo! Fest). 
 
The set was heavy on material from 2014's La Isla Bonita, but liberties were taken with the songs; drummer Greg Saunier notably experimented with a water bottle to alter the timbre of his snare on "Doom," for instance. Adjusting his signature comic asides with broken French to accommodate for the predominantly Francophone audience, he still managed to communicate that he'd forgotten to pack an extra pair of pants and that his bandmates were suffering his show-soaked jeans as a consequence ("Pants donation welcomed," singer/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki clarified in English).
 
When the band was called back for an encore, Matsuzaki and Saunier switched off their duties so Saunier could helm album closer "Oh Bummer," and to everyone's amusement, when he returned the bass, Matsuzaki gave it a thorough wipe down with a towel. Then guitarist John Dieterich (who played the whole show with a splint on his left hand) and the sweaty drummer brought out a birthday cake with sparklers on it for Ed Rodriguez, to which the guitarist responded with a frenetic noise solo that led into "Panda Panda Panda." Matsuzaki instructed the audience to sing along to the Apple O cut, and then made everyone get out of their seats for Green Cosmos opener "Come See the Duck." Perhaps managing expectations, she didn't make the crowd flap their arms like she usually does for that one, but she did force the audience to learn the timing of the chorus before she proceeded with the song and brought the weird church ceremony to a close. 
 
By the time it was all over, everyone was all smiles, slightly confused — exactly how a Deerhoof concert should leave you.