Dan Deacon

Richard’s on Richards, Vancouver BC January 21

BY Brock ThiessenPublished Jan 26, 2008

A word as superlative as "ultimate” shouldn’t be tossed around lightly, yet in Dan Deacon’s case, it seems entirely appropriate. The Baltimore artist’s show is truly one of extremes — visually, aurally and socially — making his current touring banner, the "Ultimate Reality Tour,” anything but false advertising. The dates come in support of the Ultimate Reality DVD, a collaborative 40-minute film by Deacon and fellow Wham City citizen Jimmy Joe Roche, which was projected in its hallucinatory entirety before this Vancouver show. Described as a "dominant pansexual ubermyth,” the digital opera visually manipulated two decades worth of Arnold Schwarzenegger clips to a musical underscore composed by Deacon and the live drum accompaniment of Videohippos’ Kevin O’Meare and Ponytail’s Jeremy Hyman. With images of barbarians, terminators and a kindergarten cop flashing in brilliant neon, it became a hilarious, as well as sublime, piece of psychedelia — one that pulsed with increasing intensity to modulating rhythms and oscillating synths, making for one sensory-overloading Rorschach test. But as ultimate as this was, the live solo set by Deacon that followed was even more so. Setting up a science experiment of electronics on the edge of the stage and below an illuminated green skull, Deacon played his spazzed-out electro jams from the floor, inviting a mass of sweaty bodies to create a rugby scrimmage around him. What then came was a set better described as a musical experience than a performance. Leading the crowd in an elaborate stretching routine, a full-on dance battle and the assembly of a human tunnel, the portly framed Deacon took extrovertism and audience participation to the extreme, soundtracking all the events to his widely praised album,Spiderman of the Rings, along with a few new tracks. And by the show’s epic closer, "Wham City,” Deacon had indeed created a heightened sense of reality — and not to mention one unforgettable show.

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