Austin Psych Fest Live (Saturday): Deerhunter
There was a brief moment Saturday night where I thought I might die at a Deerhunter concert. Not for any interpersonal danger, or bad drugs. I’m talking about the freeway turn lane into Carson Creek Ranch as sheets and sheets of rain began to snuff the hope out of anyone. This review would be my obituary.
Thankfully I made it, and I gingerly stepped through fresh puddles towards the entrance, only to find that Os Mutantes got an epically late start (see the gallery photo). Deerhunter wouldn’t be arriving til midnight. My girlfriend, who unfortunately wore sandals, did her best to forget about the flow of mud getting friendly with her toes.
But you know what? It was worth it. Deerhunter took a long time setting up, and a long time scuffling through a needlessly elaborate twinkle-rock atmospheric intro, but at their peak they’ve got an impeccably sharp sound that cuts through the self-conscious drone from the rest of the weekend. Imminent new album Monomania mixed in with enough old favorites to keep the unfamiliar material from sounding too austere.
The star of the show was, as usual, Bradford Cox, the effusive, easily annoyed frontman at the center of the band’s artistic posture. Sometimes we get the pensive, pissed-off Bradford who rips through the set as fast as possible. Other times you get the casual, extremely talkative Bradford who keeps things as unpredictable as possible. The latter showed up Saturday wearing a dress and wig.
At one point, upon hearing their van’s car alarm going off, he casually retorted, “Hey, this is a psychedelic festival, let’s just jam on that.” Sure enough, he and his band used that bleat to launch into a beautiful stargazing instrumental. It was as impressive as it was funny, and certainly not something you’re going to see every night.
That’s the beauty of having a guy like Bradford Cox around.