Before going into "Guilford Avenue Bridge," Dan Deacon told us to gather as much to the west side of the theater as possible to create a pathway on the left side stage ramp to the back of the theater. He then told us to make this a tunnel where two people and then two people and so on until the tunnel lead outside the Bluebird and down the block. The idea was for everyone to dance through the tunnel until "the only people left in the room are the drummer and Chester, and people who have no interest in the performance," Deacon instructed. Turns out, the line didn't go must past the outside of the venue before filing in. Nonetheless, no one else pulls ridiculous stunts like this at their shows and actually gets away with it.
It was like this almost as soon as the show got going, Deacon urging the crowd to take various actions, to be involved in the show rather than just watching, as he and the band played through all of America during the course of the show. As he's become known for, Deacon broke any and all expectations the crowd might have had down -- unless, of course, the expectation was to have fun. The music was a cascade of electronics and percussion that whirled with Alan Resnick's psychedelic visuals.
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Early in the show, Deacon had some old friends of his from Baltimore who got stranded in Denver because of Hurricane Sandy lead a dance-off in circles at various tiers of the Bluebird with people dancing at ten second intervals. Later, other friends lead both sides of the room respectively in interpretive dancing.
With "Snookered," Deacon told us, "This ends the ritual part of the show." For "True Thrush," Deacon asked those who had downloaded the app for the show to activate it and hold up their iPhones to be the light show. Seemed like dozens of people had done so, and their phones shone with colored lights at points and bright strobes at others. Again, this was something that no one else really does, which is what makes Deacon one of the most visionary and creative performers around right now.
Before performing "Wham City," Deacon gave a shout out to Rhinoceropolis and praised it as one of the few places in America like it and gave a plug to the after show party at the venue. The ensuing exuberant performance ranks among remarkably exuberant performances in recent memory. Deacon and company didn't skimp on the delivery of their music. The show came to an end nearly an hour and a half after it started with the American tetralogy "USA I - IV." But before that, Deacon urged us all to vote, no matter who it was for, as a gesture against "the rule of oligarchy." The stream of images of the American west and the natural beauty of the country in rolling imagery within a tessellated image and picture within picture footage made America look like a vast, psychedelic landscape. Which, in so many ways, it is.
The show started off with Alan Resnick who hinted that he would be doing standup with an avatar of himself and then did. But, really, his performance art was a conceptual comedy routine, and we knew it. But the joke was that we didn't. It was like seeing Tracy + The Plastics, only without the integral musical component, and it was just as surreal, particularly when the avatar didn't go along with the jokes.
Chester Endersby Gwazda played next, and it was just him and a drummer. Sonically it was akin to early '90s Flaming Lips with a shimmery yet gritty guitar sound and playful, uplifting vocals. Two songs in, the duo did a Future Islands cover and later on in the short, five-song set, the guys did a strange kind of reggae song that was reminiscent of something by Abe Vigoda. Between creative beats and abundant positive energy coming from this band, the outfit definitely made some new fans.
Height With Friends started off with just Height doing an a cappella number. He then brought on the band, and it was like seeing a really good hip-hop act working with a soul or funk band with one leg in the avant-garde. Otherwise it was an interesting mixture of ideas akin to Curtis Mayfield working with Talib Kweli and Boards of Canada but stripping it down to essentials.
Personal Bias: Dan Deacon has been a friend of people involved in the warehouse scene in Denver for years. He's been bringing together the world of academic music with that of the underground that has yielded some of the most interesting music of the last ten years.
Random Detail: Ran into Tyler Pelo of Kevin Costner Suicide Pact at the show, as well as Warren Bedell formerly of Rhinoceropolis and artist Brittany McDonald.
By the Way: While it was difficult to be a full participant in some of the earlier "ritual" activities of the show due to limited movement born of being pressed against into the corner of the rail, I did, in fact, participate in the human tunnel. It was a moral imperative.
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