Deerhoof are one of the most uncategorisable bands around. Formed in 1994 from a noise duo in San Francisco, they now stand on stage at the Garage ten albums down, two members up and as excitingly erratic as ever. Constantly moving and shifting focus, the band have managed to evade monotony while bringing in a base of loyal supporters that are amongst the most intelligent fans you’re likely to meet. Name the cleverest, most clued up person you know, musically. Chances are that they will be a Deerhoof fan. With the arrival of second guitarist Ed Rodriguez in 2008 resulting in murmurs of guitar-centric output, there has been a clear deviation away from strings, and the resultant, ‘Deerhoof Vs Evil’, is far free-er than anything the band have produced before. You could almost move to it.
Tonight the foursome are on top form – as tight as one of Greg Saunier’s abused snares, yet, while the lanky linchpin holds things together brilliantly, there is something missing from the performance. It’s down to the lack of interaction with the audience, and the method in which they play means that while they straddle the divide between art project and rock band, they somehow stand with a foot in neither camp: almost a rock group, almost an experimental one, yet oddly neither. So they just play away, almost as if we’re not there.
By Sam Ballard
Originally published in issue 28 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. May 2011