Deerhoof | Live Review & Photoset

6th June | Thekla

Photos: Jessica Bartolini

Tonight heralded a weird and wonderful evening of experimental, post-rock noise like none other. With a sold-out show filled with haunting, psychedelic riffs and front-womanship, Bristol was left mesmerised and enchanted.

First on the bill were the eccentric locals, The Evil Usses whose set consisted of 8-bit keyboard rhythms, laden with distorted guitar and chirpy percussive melodies. Bristol is well known for its slew of experimental bands, having been the birthplace of numerous math-rock bands, such as Memory of Elephants and Hoggs Bison.

As a result, the bar has been set impossibly high in the Bristol scene and, while The Evil Usses had a poppier sound, there was a fairly repetitive tone used throughout the set, making for lulls in energy. The disjointed structure was interesting but lacked conviction, despite the technical prowess of the band. Nevertheless, The Evil Usses proved a vibrant colourful opener.

Following were Quodega who provided an organic and impressive sound. The band hail from Cardiff and are the brainchild of Tom Raybould, combining cinematic soundscapes with the powerful drum-work of Kilph Scurlock [The Flaming Lips].

The heaviness of the underlying riffs helped elevate the softer guitar melodies, while the soundscapes provided by Raybould provided an impressive atmosphere, which nodded to post-rock roots. The intimidatingly intense drumming, with its thoughtful fills and accents, helped mould each of the tracks into cohesive pieces which excited and commanded attention.

The arrival of Deerhoof engulfed the venue in a giddy energy. The whole set was a captivating, haunting and high-octane pop nightmare. Satomi Matsuzaki (bass, lead vocals) provided terrifying punctuation of each of the tracks with an energy that was truly infectious.

What’s most impressive about Deerhoof is that despite the aggressive, technically-impressive riffs, the band maintains your attention and participation. The whole set was unlike anything seen in the experimental scene; it’s easy to recognise how Deerhoof have garnered a reputation as a heavyweight pioneer in the scene. Each member’s parts complimented and enriched the next, and despite choppy time signatures and the occasional aggressive descent into madness, the whole band played seamlessly together.

Being present at a Deerhoof gig is like eating bubblegum ice cream in a horror house. Each track is so starkly different from the last and the dulcet vocals create a melancholic dissociation from the world beyond the venue. Deerhoof are one of the most bizarre and exciting bands to grace the indie scene, with a live experience that is unparalleled.

Check out a Deerhoof live set from last year here: