Deerhunter At The Button Factory – Review
Atlanta dream pop darlings Deerhunter mark a long awaited return to Dublin with an appearance at the surprising venue of the Button Factory this evening. Having dropped the sublime Fading Frontier earlier this month, several notable singles such as ‘Breaker’ and ‘Snakeskin’ ensured the band’s return to form, and proving a sold out show is no great surprise.
Frontman Bradford Cox does the honours of opening up for his own band via his solo project Atlas Sound. Mostly instrumental electronic music is what’s in store, with more sonic soundscapes and loops than a hipster could ever dream of. While impressing most of the audience, several tracks go on just a bit much, which in turn provokes idle chit chat amongst the crowd. Nevertheless, there are some heavenly sounding tunes here without doubt.
Finally, the rest of the band emerge, much to the crowd’s delight. Cracking straight into the good stuff with ‘Desire Lines’, the tone of the evening is set perfectly. This lasts about a minute, as technical issues grind proceedings to a halt. After a shaky re-start, the band carry on with exceptionally loud and powerful renditions of newer songs ‘Breaker’ and ‘Duplex Planet’ with the bouncy classic, ‘Revival’ in there too. Cox begins the friendly banter with the crowd, praising Irish audiences for their great venues and interest in the band before they were cool anywhere else. Already warming the crowd up nicely, another fan favourite in the shape of ‘Don’t Cry’ ensures the crowd are captivated.
At this point, something very strange happens. Having set the tone for a night of classic tunes and no messing, the band begin to add rather lengthy and psychedelic endings and interludes between the tunes. At first, the crowd love it and lap it up. However, twenty minutes of this is perhaps too much for even a seasoned Deerhunter fan. The energy level in the room begins to shift up and down rather dramatically every few minutes, changing from being the best experience to a rather uncomfortable one. Due to the improvisational nature of the music, it’s hit and miss, and is anything but boring.
Having spent quite a while simultaneously assaulting and massaging everyone’s eardrums with sonic soundscapes, we get some respite through a refreshingly minimalist ‘All The Same’ and a truly mesmerising ‘Nothing Ever Happened’, the later raising everyone off their feet, and probably waking some from the trance they were surely in. Just as they get back into it, we’re told the set has gone over time and they only have time to finish with the newer ‘Ad Astra’. Confusion and bitter disappointment is the collective feeling, but luckily the group hurry back on stage after being told we had time for one more.
Some already halfway out the door, the crowd is thrown into ecstasy upon hearing the opening chords of Microcastle opener, ‘Cover me (slowly)’ which leads euphorically into the beautiful ‘Agoraphobia’. This is the moment we have been waiting for all night, and was so nearly taken away from us. Many now becoming visibly emotional during this raw and dreamy number, this is the Deerhunter we all love. The juxtaposition of depressingly tender vocals and upbeat instrumentation makes for the unique sense of melancholy that the band do so well.
Tonight’s performance was frustrating, uplifting, joyous, and tragically beautiful all at once. Perhaps one or two more of the big crowd pleasers would have cemented this as a gig of the year, but we have to make due. Quite clearly giving us everything they had, good and bad, Deerhunter are an amazing thing to behold.