Deerhoof Republik, Calgary AB, June 20
Published Jun 21, 2015A little over a week ago, Calgary music fans found out that the legendary Republik will be closing its doors by the end of the month. The 500-capacity room will not go out quietly — the venue is playing host to icons Swervedriver and Daniel Lanois at Sled Island festival next week. Last night, avant-pop band Deerhoof maniacally tore up the mid-sized room with their restless youthful energy as sort of a lead-up show to the festival.
Local support bands, Jung People and the Mountaineer, warmed up the Saturday night crowd with a decent dose of post-rock and melodic pop-rock, respectively. Once Deerhoof hit the stage, the audience was buzzing with the hardcore fans at the front. For their first Calgary appearance since Sled Island 2010, Deerhoof romped through an ear-splitting set of just over an hour featuring songs across their twelve album discography, most notably from last year's La Isla Bonita.
From the band's crazy outfits to their bombastic jagged sound, Deerhoof's performance was colourful and unpredictable. Singer-bassist Satomi Matsuzaki, in a summery dress/long shirt, was like an animated cheerleader, jumping and kicking with her bass guitar and waving her arms as if directing traffic. The contrast between Matsuzaki's sweet, adorable vocals and her wacky dance moves were a joy to watch alongside the duelling guitarists, John Dieterich and Ed Rodriquez. Their fuzzy and impossibly catchy riffs were off-kilter, explosive, and constantly changing, syncing up perfectly with challenging rhythm section courtesy of drummer Greg Saunier.
Saunier, wearing blue ocean pants with the world's continents randomly pressed on, wildly beat a minimal and rickety drum set with bent and broken cymbals. Flailing in every direction with such precise vigour, it looked like his entire setup was going to fall apart at any moment. Yet however reckless it seemed, Saunier pounded through the band's complex and sudden rhythm changes with ferocious accuracy. Twice in between songs, Saunier, drenched in sweat, awkwardly got up to Matsuzaki's microphone to speak to the audience, claiming that playing in Calgary for the "second time was like umami" and that the whole reason he got up to talk was to merely "give his bandmates a breather." The deadpan charm of Saunier's stage banter surprisingly fits the live show for a band that is certainly not known to stay within any normal boundaries.
For the encore, Deerhoof played the simple fan favourite "Panda Panda Panda" from 2003's Apple O'. Matsuzaki hilariously informed the audience that the lyrics were "panda panda panda" and the crowd subsequently sang along to the rougher version of the song. Still not satisfied, Matsuzaki bounced up to the front of the stage and demanded everyone to fly like birds during the last song of the show, "Come See the Duck" — which everyone did.
Deerhoof are an absurdly fun but also a highly technical band. Their melodies are sweet and sugary but they deliver them in a controlled chaos, constantly engaging and pushing each other to the limit. With smiles all around, they play their songs louder and with even more conviction than what is on their recorded albums. The raucous and exceptionally entertaining Deerhoof are exactly what the Calgary music community and Republik needed.