Archive for the ‘Dan Deacon’ Category

[ATTENDED: November 20, 2021] Alex Silva [rescheduled from April 30, 2020]

Alex Silva was up after Patrick McMinn.  He took the left side of the stage and was basically right in front of me.

Silva is from Galicia, Spain but now lives in Maryland.

I was delighted that he was wearing a retro Froot Loops T shirt.

Much like McMinn, he mostly pushed buttons on his gear, but it was a more interested watching him work.  He also sang (and processed his voice) to create new sounds.

He introduced a bunch of his songs with personal stories and easily won the crowd over with his stories.

I found his music to be very enjoyable

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[ATTENDED: November 20, 2021] Dan Deacon [rescheduled from April 30, 2020]

The only thing I knew about Dan Deacon was his outrageous “remix” of “Call Me Maybe” in which he looped the entire song on top of itself some 147 times.  It was weird and irritating and funny.

And then a little while later he did a Tiny Desk Concert and it blew my mind and I knew that I wanted to see him in concert.  That was six years ago.

I finally got to see him live and it was everything I imagined.

I don’t really know Deacon’s music.  That’s not strictly true, I know a lot of his early self-released stuff which is really weird.  His newer stuff is less weird, but still unusual–but his albums are usually beloved.  And he has amassed a huge fan base.

Deacon is an unlikely electronic music hero, but hero he is.  He is heavy (he joked about how he should have gotten in shape for this tour), balding and wears glasses.  But he’s got a great sense of humor and an amazing gift for music.  He has a college degree in electro-acoustic and computer music composition.  And he has played in all kinds of bands throughout his career (from ska to grindcore).   But it’s his electronic music, often with his voice pitch-shifted to beyond cartoon level, that makes the night. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 20, 2021] Patrick McMinn [rescheduled from April 30, 2020]

I was really excited to finally get to see Dan Deacon that I didn’t really think about opening acts.

Traffic was a little worse than I expected and I wound up walking in during Patrick McMinn’s set.

The original opening act was scheduled to be Ed Schrader’s Music Beat.  I’m not sure why he wasn’t on the list anymore.

What amused me most about the stage was that it was set up with three table with laptops and such on them.  On the far right table (facing the stage) McMinn was standing bathed in blue lights.

I had never been to an electronica show before, so I didn’t really know if it was going to be literally all knob twiddling.  And it was, more or less.

But McMinn also plays trumpet and for the final two songs he played nice trumpet melodies into his processor and then proceeded to alter and mix them  to fit into the beats he was creating.

While it is certainly interesting to watch someone create music on the fly like that, the addition of a nice visual like the trumpet certainly adds a fun element.

The set didn’t blow me away or anything, but it was enjoyable introduction to the evening.

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[POSTPONED: April 30, 2020] Dan Deacon / Ed Schrader’s Music Beat


I have wanted to see Dan Deacon live ever since I saw his mind-blowing Tiny Desk Concert.

Deacon is an electronic musician and a bit of a wild card.  His shows are full of audience participation and are a lot of fun.  There’s improv and looping and a whole lot of jumping around.

He hasn’t played Philly since 2015 (apparently, when he opened for Miley Cyrus and her Dead Petz). Well, he did a show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (!) back in 2018, which was apparently wonderful, but which I wasn’t prepared to go to.

I was super excited to see that he was playing at Underground Arts and I grabbed tickets immediately. UA would have been an ideal venue to see him in, with the low ceiling and wide audience area.  I do hope this tour gets rescheduled soon.

When show were first starting to get cancelled in March, I held out hope that a show at the end of April might still go on.  But shows all around him started getting postponed.  He held out longer than most artists before postponing.

Technically Deacon’s music isn’t really my scene.  I do like him quite a lot, but I don’t particularly like other music like it.

So Ed Schrader’s Music Beat is a duo and Dan Deacon produced their latest album.  I listened to a couple of songs but didn’t really like it all that much.

I’ll bet they are fun live, especially if Deacon is guiding them.

Do come back soon, Dan!

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As on October 1, NPR has started the Tiny Desk Playlist page.

As of today there are 9 Playlists on the page.  I’m not going to comment on them, as I’ve already posted about all of these shows (except CHAI as of now).  I might disagree with some of these lists, but whatever the case they are a good introduction to Tiny Desks if you haven’t already seen one.

5 Tiny Desk Concerts That Will Literally Make You Cry
• Julien Baker (read more)
• Yusuf/Cat Stevens (read more)
• Bernie and The Believers (read more)
• Rev. Sekou and The Seal Breakers (read more)
• Barbara Hannigan (read more)

The 5 Most Uplifting Tiny Desk Concerts
• Lizzo (read more)
• Superorganism (read more)
• Fragile Rock (read more)
• Dan Deacon (read more)
• Mucca Pazza (read more)

The 5 Wildest Tiny Desk Concerts
• Gogol Bordello (read more)
• Red Baraat (read more)
• The Cristina Pato Trio (read more)
• George Li (read more)
• Dirty Three (read more)

The Best-Sounding Tiny Desk Concerts, Vol. 1 [selected by “the guy mixing the performances and bopping his head along just off (and sometimes on) screen” Josh Rogosin].
• Monsieur Periné (read more)
• Andrew Bird (read more)
• Nick Hakim (read more)
• Tedeschi Trucks Band (read more)
• PJ Morton (read more)

The Best Of The Very Beginning Of Tiny Desk Concerts
• Laura Gibson (read more)
• Vic Chesnutt (read more)
• Tom Jones (read more)
• Thao Nguyen (read more)
• Dr. Dog (read more)

The 5 Best ‘Before They Were Stars’ Tiny Desk Concerts
• Brandi Carlile (read more)
• Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals (read more)
• Adele (read more)
• H.E.R. (read more)
• Mitski (read more)

Tiny Desk Trick Or Treat: Our 5 Favorite Concerts In Costume
• Neko Case’s Halloween Special (read more)
• Blue Man Group (read more)
• Mucca Pazza (read more)
• CHAI (read more)
• Preservation Hall Jazz Band (read more)

#ElTiny: The Best Latinx Tiny Desk Concerts, Vol. 1
• Natalia Lafourcade (read more)
• Jorge Drexler (read more)
• Juanes & Mon Laferte (read more)
• iLe (read more)
• Café Tacvba (read more)

Lianne La Havas’ 5 Favorite Tiny Desk Concerts
• Tank And The Bangas
• Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals
• Noname
• Tamino
• Mac Miller

[READ: October 28, 2019] “God’s Caravan”

This story opens with boys crouching in the dirt shooting marbles.  I assumed it was set in the 1950s, so I was surprised to see that the boy knew of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk.  But it is set in Memphis, Tennessee–“Soulsville the black part.”

Earl was kicking butt and winning marbles left and right when the boys heard an ice cream truck trundle up.  But this was no ice cream truck.  Rather it was a van and it was playing “I’ve come from Alabama with a banjo on my knee.”  On the side of the van, painted in “blood of Jesus” red were the words “God’s Caravan.”  The speakers then broadcast “When I say, ‘Ride or die’…you say ‘Amen.'”

The voice said “Ride or Die” and Earl and the other boys all shouted back “Amen.”

The door opened and there was the pastor, dressed in black judge’s robes.  He said he had sweets for their hearts. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 31, 2016] Marco Benevento

2016-08-31 20.40.39I’d never heard of Marco Benevento before this show.  I looked him up before the show and listened to one song and thought it sounded okay.  Because of a tight security force (understandable in light of recent events), I missed the opening few minutes of his set, but he played for nearly an hour, so I got a full taste of Marco’s music.

And Marco is a performer. Sitting at a modified piano in a black and white striped suit, he conducted his trio through long, groovy songs.  Andre Borger played drums.  And I was struck as soon as I walked in at how great and wild the drums were.  Many songs had a click track of some sort (I think more just electronic noises on repeat), but Borger dominated the rhythm–playing great fills and smashing the hell out of everything in sight.

But the real star of the show was bassist Karina Rykman. (more…)

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elephantSOUNDTRACK: DAN DEACON-Tiny Desk Concert #422 (February 25, 2015).

dandeacDan Deacon is a trip and a half.  I only know him from NPR (and they love him).  He is a weird dude, that’s for sure.  He plays some super weird electronic music.  But more importantly, he really really gets the crowd into his show.  Indeed, this is one of the few Tiny Desk Concerts where the audience features more than the performer.

His opening mantra is that you will close your eyes and enter the consciousness of Martin Lawrence’s character in Bad Boys II.  This is apropos of nothing of course.

“Feel the Lightning” is amazing.  He has his synth set up to control an acoustic piano (you can see the keys playing).  Deacon plays some really catchy music (an amazing amount of noise and layers) but with a beautiful piano melody over the top.  And he sings.  But his voice is utterly and utterly processed.  There are high harmonies added to it and frankly I have no idea what he’s singing most of the time.  It’s catchy and alienating at the same time.  It’s amazing to watch the piano playing by itself–wailing–at the end.

Deacon himself is a pretty weird dude as well, as I said. He starts talking about filing down solenoids and other technical details about what he did and then he shifts gears and tells them to form a circle for a dance contest.  He prattles on and on (and is quite funny).  The contest rules: be sassy, after 5 seconds, pick the next person to go in, imagine you’re a T-Rex in Jurassic Park.

“Sheathed Wings” opens with the wrong song and then when the song proper starts the dance contest begins.  And how fun to watch the NPR staff dancing along (and to see how big their office is).

The final song “Learning to Relax” is nearly 7 minutes and it also features a group interpretive dance (with captains).  As with the previous dance off, everyone is brought out one at a time (including Bob and Robin!) for a dance off.  Always maintain eye contact with your team otherwise you won’t know if your dance moves sucks.

And while all this is going on, he’s singing along, pressing all kinds of weird (homemade) gadgets.  I love watching him “conduct” the piano during the slow part.

As the show ends, you hear Bob say it’s heart-healthy NPR (and Dan asks if there’s a shower in the building).

I don’t even have all that much to say about the music–which is hyper and dancey, but man, I’d like to see him live sometime.  It’s a show one won’t soon forget.

This is a must see.

[READ: January 6, 2015] An Elephant in the Garden

I didn’t realize until after I read this that this play was an adaptation from a novel (I’m curious to read the novel now).  Or that the novel was actually a children’s novel ( I just saw on amazon).

This is a simple story of a girl, her mother and an elephant.

As the play opens, it is 1989 and Lizzie is visiting the recently torn down Berlin Wall.  Then it flashes back to her life in Dresden.  She as born in 1929.

Set in 1945 in Dresden, Germany (yes, you know what is going to happen), Lizzie and her family are a Christian family who do not approve of Hitler or his plans.  They have relatives who support Hitler (and who blame the Jews for their losing World War I) and who call Lizzie’s father a Jew-loving pacifist (!). (more…)

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CV1_TNY_12_10_12Steinberg.inddSOUNDTRACKDAN DEACON-“Electronica Hanukkah” (2010).

elechanDan Deacon is rapidly becoming one of my favorite oddball musicians.  I really don’t know very much about him, but he seems willing to give away music to various projects and put them for free on soundcloud (he has a proper album out as well this year which has been well received).

“Electronica Hannukah” is a paean to consumerism–set to a noisy processed electronic beat.  The superprocessed chorus voice is, well, super processed.  Deacon’s song is snarky and funny and yet the harmonies are actually quite pretty.

I’m not sure that this is what the holiday is about.  But you can determine that for yourself.

[READ: December 19, 2012] “A Voice in the Night”

This is a multipart story told in multiple sections.  We have three story lines labeled I, II, III and each story line is broken so that the next can continue.  That may sound more confusing than it needed to be.  So let’s step back.  In story line I, we see the biblical story of Samuel, whom God called in the middle of the night.  In story line II, we see a young boy staying awake in case God calls him in the middle of the night.  In story line III we see that boy as an old man whom God has not called.

There are four breaks in the story, one for each time Samuel was called.  The first three times, Samuel assumes it is his holy master Eli who has called him.  But Eli is asleep and tells Samuel to go back to bed himself.  On the third visit Eli says that it must be the Lord calling him.  And he should answer correctly.

Unlike Samuel, the boy in the second story line is not a believer   His father does not believe and the boy does not want to stay for the religious part of Sunday school.  And yet the story of Samuel stays with him all the time and he tries desperately to stay awake in case the Lord calls.  Which he may not really want anyhow, as it means a lot of work. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DAN DEACON-“Call Me Maybe Acapella 147 Times Exponentially Layered” (2012).

Dan Deacon (whose twitter handle is “ebaynetflix” ha!), created a cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe,” for a digital album with 43 artists covering the pop delicacy.  I listened to a few samples from the album and they span the gamut from kind of serious to kind of crazy to mocking to Deacon.

Stereogum describes Deacon’s version this way: “Dan Deacon piles “Call Me Maybe” on itself over and over again, creating the most dissonant, harrowing take on Carli Rae Jepsen’s [sic] hit known to man.”

He begins with a sample from the verse, then he adds some lines from the chorus (while the verse is playing). You can hear “here’s my number, so call me maybe” a few times, but the background is growing in intensity and menace.  By 90 seconds in, you can still hear her a little bit, but she is almost entirely consumed by noise.  Then around 2 minutes, things seems to calm down a bit (she’s still plugging away at the chorus).  By 4 minutes the whole thing has seemingly collapsed in on itself.  And the whole time, there seems to be a steady beat that you can dance to.  This track may indeed produce insanity.

You can listen to Deacon’s monstrosity below, or go to the original site.

  To see the lineup for the whole album, go here.

[READ: August 22, 2012] 3 Book Reviews

I don’t quite understand how Cohen pulled this off, but in the July issue of Harper‘s right after his story, “The College Borough,” which I mentioned yesterday, he also had three book reviews.  How does one get two bylines in Harper’s?  Has that ever happened before?

Because I liked the story so much, I decided I would read these reviews too.  Cohen sets up the reviews with the idea of political gestation periods (12 months for donkeys, 22 months for elephants) and how novelists work even slower when it comes to writing about events.  Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead came out 32 months after V-J Day, John Steinbeck wrote about the depression from 1937-1945.  So now in 2012 we see the “spawn of Bush’s two terms of excruciating contractions.”  Books that fictionalize the realities of post-9/11 life: “that the canniest distraction from class war is war-war.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DAN DEACON-“Guilford Avenue Bridge” (2012).

I only know Dan Deacon from his “cover” of “Call me Maybe” (in which he layered the song on top of itself 147 times).  Deacon has a new proper album out and while it’s not quite as outlandish as the “Call Me Maybe” cover, it’s still pretty out there.

This is the opening track–a noisy barrage of sound set to a really catchy drum beat and bassline.  But you almost have to listen hard for that beat because it is just a wall of noise that goes on for 90 seconds until the song completely stops and is replaced by a manipulated banjo solo (I think).  This slowly morphs into pianos and then waves of delicate keyboards (all of which I’m sure is some kind of manipulated sound).  With about 30 seconds left the noise comes back and the songs ends much like it started.  Although it ends with a very happy chord.

This is definitely not for most, but the experimental nature is quite fun, and it’s definitely not something you’re going to hear on the radio very often.

[READ: August 22, 2012] “The College Borough”

I hadn’t read any Joshua Cohen before this story (he wrote the 800+ page buzz book Witz, but is NOT the author of a book called Leverage which Sarah reacted very strongly to–that would be Joshua C. Cohen, this one is Joshua A Cohen).  Also, I put it off because it was long.

Before I summarize, I want to state that this story is flipped on its own head by the final line.  The final few words completely changed how I felt about this story.  And I have to wonder what the risk is for a writer to do something like this.  For the entire story we don’t know why the narrator acts the way he does (in the present).  The flashback that the story provided is very thorough and detailed but it does not answer our pressing question.  Even when we return to the present, and the past comes to meet them, it still doesn’t explain it. It is literally the last few words that justify everything.  That’s audacious.

I’ll say more about this at the end.

It also begins with an audacious statement: “I helped build the Flatiron Building though I’ve never been to New York.”  Indeed, it seems that the narrator never wanted to go to New York.  But ow that his daughter, a junior in high school, wants to go to college in Manhattan (they hope she’ll stay in-state), he agrees for them all to go to New York City.

The narrator met his wife, Dem, in college (at in-state college).  They were both in the writing program and they’d had some classes together before they enrolled in Professor Greener’s seminar.

The beginning of the story is mostly the narrator’s complaints about New York.  I especially enjoyed this line: “I know no city can contain all the amenities you’d find at a place like our alma mater.”  Back home they have more pools, more StairMasters and their very own Flatiron Building (dubbed the Fauxiron).

Then the story pulls back so we can figure out what the hell this guy is talking about. (more…)

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