Seems a strange thing to complain about given the perishing cold outside, but man is it hot in the Garage tonight. I wouldn’t put it down to any malfunctioning or overzealous equipment either; there are just a lot of people here to see Deerhoof – significantly more than the last time I saw them play the same venue on the back of last year’s Deerhoof vs. Evil. It seems plenty have been quite taken with this year’s marvellous Breakup Song (more so than our reviewer, apparently), something which has propelled the San Franciscans back to the levels of appreciation they last experienced in the UK around the time of the brilliant Friend Opportunity. Good. They deserve it.
Despite the sauna-like temperatures, Deerhoof play the only way they know how – with utmost force, even in their most jovial passages. But such is the level of the heat that they have to take short breaks every three or four songs (something they’re loathe to do normally), during which ever-friendly drummer Greg Saunier comes to the front of the stage to deliver the sort of long, rambling monologues that would get a man addressing any less devoted an audience roundly bottled off. Thankfully, Sauiner’s comic timing is as good as that with which he drums, and the rambles become some of the set’s highlights.
And there are loads of highlights. Though Breakup Song standout ‘The Trouble With Candyhands’ is given pride of place, this is a gig that rewards long-term fans as much as new ones, and indeed should ensure that many of the latter will count themselves amongst the former given time. Though there are no truly bad Deerhoof records, we’re treated to a smattering of songs from a fair few of the best, with the biggest reactions reserved for the ever-rampant ‘The Perfect Me’ and Milk Man classic ‘Giga Dance’. Both such songs have a room full of people trying to figure out how to accurately nod along to rhythms quite so bonkers, but anyone succeeding is missing the point; Deerhoof are for the heart as much as the head. Go mental.
Come the near-finale of ‘Basketball Get Your Groove Back’, singer Satomi Matsuzaki has transcended the heat, dancing round as if she’s chasing an invisible basketball, leading the crowd in the most curious but joyous of sing-a-longs. As with all their best work, it’s both adorable and formidable. Throughout, Deerhoof kindly approach every song with a smile as big as their rhythms are heavy, and it ensures that the crowd are sent off with their hearts warmed as much as their sweltering bodies.