Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dan Deacon's Ultimate Reality

Dan Deacon's show at Emo's last night was one of the best musical performances I've ever seen in my entire life. The only other concert that comes close on my personal best-of list was when I saw the White Stripes in '04 from the front row of Stubb's, and the more I think about it, the more I think that I now have a new #1. Deacon's trip to Austin last night, one of the first stops of his new Ultimate Reality tour, was a revolutionary, eye-opening, soul-enriching spectacle that even I didn't see coming, and I'm no rookie to the magic of Dan Deacon.

The gig was originally booked on the Emo's inside stage, but the demand was so high and there were so many tickets sold that it had to be moved to the much larger outside stage. They kicked it off by showing the Ultimate Reality DVD with live instrumentation and dual-drumming behind the projector screen, and the trippy visualizations along with the outer-space music was a proper warmup to the freakout that was to come. Deacon set up on the floor right at the hips of the overflow crowd, and before he touched a single note he asked the entire crowd to put one finger in the air, and get down on one knee. The entire crowd, I'm talking 300-400 people, complied unanimously to crouch down with a single finger in the air and knee on the concrete floor. He then asked everyone to rise, and they did so with a jubilant applause.

From that moment on he proceeded to give a performance like none this little town had ever seen before. People were dancing in circles, do-si-do-ing, poppin' & lockin', spinning around, high-fiving, hugging each other, jumping up and down, and crowding atop the stage behind him for a better view of the happening. A couple of people simply stood wide-eyed and repeatedly exclaimed "Wow!". Everyone in the venue was absolutely at Dan Deacon's mercy. At one point he asked everyone to shift to one side of the room, form a human tunnel with their hands clasped over and above them, and run through the the tunnel the length of the entire venue. We did so without question, full of some weird, youthful exuberance. I had never, ever seen any performer have this type of control over his entire audience.

At another point, he had everyone form a big, 70's disco fever dance circle and display their best moves to the music, organically rotating people in and out to do their thing. Deacon crouched down on the fringes of the circle with a spotlight and a microphone, experiencing this moment along with in his crowd. As his allotted time was running out and people could sense that the final song was near, I leaned over to my buddy, a Deacon first-timer, and I said "if he plays Wham City this place is going to explode." Seconds later, the first notes of the song began to ring out, and everyone started screaming. It was amazing. The entire show was just, amazing.

I've been to hundreds of shows, and I've never seen anything remotely close to what happened at Emo's last night. That includes both of the previous times that I've seen Deacon perform. This thing was on a whole other level. The only thing I can equate it to is like watching footage of an old Beatles or Elvis concert or something, and seeing all of those people just completely beside themselves. It was unforgettable. All hail Dan Deacon, the 21st century Pied Piper.

I'll keep an eye out for reviews/photos from other Austin sources all I'll try to add their links in this post. Thankfully, Switchburn were there with a whole video crew documenting the action, and once they've got the video on their site I'll link over to that as well.
Like I said the other day this tour is making quite a few stops, so don't miss the bus.
Ultimate Reality tour:
  • 01-07 Atlanta, GA - Eyedrum
  • 01-08 Pensacola, FL - Sluggos
  • 01-09 New Orleans, LA - One Eyed Jacks
  • 01-11 Austin, TX - Emo's Jr.
  • 01-12 Denton, TX - Hailey's
  • 01-14 Phoenix, AZ - Modified
  • 01-15 Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre *!
  • 01-17 San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall *
  • 01-18 Portland, OR - Backspace
  • 01-19 Portland, OR - Holocene
  • 01-20 Seattle, WA - Neumos
  • 01-21 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richard's on Richards $
  • 01-24 Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
  • 01-25 Chicago, IL - Lakeshore Theater
  • 01-27 Detroit, MI - Scrummage University
  • 01-28 Cleveland Heights, OH - Grog Shop
  • 01-29 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
  • 01-30 Montreal, Quebec - La Sala Rossa
  • 01-31 Boston, MA - Pozen Center
  • 02-03 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church


Cubik said...

Mr.Curiosity sir.
I have to agree. As you know I was, up to last night, a Dan Deacon virgin. Somehow I had managed to avoid even hearing one of his songs before the show last night.
I think it is better that way.
What a f**king top night.
I haven't seen that many hands in the air at a show since back in the day when we were raving the nights away back in Dublin!
Great times.

Cheers mate

jgross said...

excellent review.

Amanda Michael said...

That sounds amazing - Now I wish I had bought tickets for Dan Deacon instead of The Sword (at Emos the next night). I'm definitely going to check him out the next time he comes to town.

Mr. Curiosity said...

Thanks guys & gal.

I still haven't seen The Sword, I need to do that.