Live Review: KC, Dan Deacon; Once; Page France tonight…

Category: Blog — @ 10:38 am July 2, 2007

The iPhone odyssey will be recapped in Wednesday’s column. I will say this: I got one… eventually. More later.

After my late-afternoon iPhone fiasco, we headed to Memorial Park for KC and the Sunshine band. It was the usual crowd of fun-loving suburban white folks, mostly families, lots of kids. Almost no black people whatsoever. The crowd seemed larger than last year’s 4th of July celebration-in-the-park (certainly larger than the Bright Eyes concert). KC and his entourage came on at around 9:15, and though I thought the whole thing was disappointing, I don’t know what I was expecting — some sort of hip disco show that highlighted the grooves of the band’s best songs? Dumb on my part. Instead it was your typical Vegas/Branson-style medley/revue performance. Bombastic. Lots of bad dance routines. A handful of covers from the disco era that should have been left out. KC could easily have played 45 minutes of nothing but his own material. Instead, we got disco’s greatest hits and even a couple obscure KC numbers along with ones we all know and love. The band was good, but the sound was particularly bad for an outdoor show — shrill, with too much high end. No bass at all. The Sunshine Band, specifically the brass, was first rate, and KC’s voice was good enough to pull it off despite having to run around stage like an elderly aerobics instructor. Most people around us weren’t watching, anyway. They were too busy making sure their kids weren’t lighting things on fire or spilling Kool-Aid on their blankets. A small handful of women in their 40s did some good-time rump shaking, hiding their Busch Lights beneath foam coozies. KC finished at around 10, and the fireworks followed. Funny how these fireworks shows always use the same music. Get ready for Lee Greenwood, Neil Diamond and the requisite Louis Armstrong “It’s a Wonderful World.” Teresa wondered what it would be like to see a fireworks display backed by indie rock songs — Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, Bright Eyes. The crowd would hate it. Actually, I’d probably hate it, too. It seemed like the shortest fireworks display I’ve seen at Memorial Park since the ’90s. People around us actually booed. I guess they didn’t get their money’s worth.

Saturday night was Dan Deacon at The Waiting Room. A friendly Lazy-i reader saw the show listed on my blog and pointed it out as something I shouldn’t miss. I’m glad she made the effort. She said Deacon is part of a Baltimore art / theater / music collective called Wham City. I knew he was a one-man band sort of thing, but other than that, didn’t know what to expect. His shtick is similar to The Show Is the Rainbow‘s — Deacon sets up on the floor instead of the stage, surrounded by samplers and lighting gear and a big green skull on a stick that lights up during the high points. Before he started, a couple guys taped white bedding sheets from the beam that divides the stage room from the rest of the bar, effectively creating a barrier, forcing people to come inside the stage area and surround Deacon and his gear. Smart move. It made the room more intimate and enclosed. Deacon’s music is almost entirely prerecorded tracks played on an iPod Shuffle, augmented by keyboards and his vocal effects. Hyperactive, frenetic, big-bass dance songs sung by squirrels playing Casio keyboards, melodies reminiscent of A Clockwork Orange and The Faint and TSITR and video game soundtracks.

The biggest difference between Deacon and TSITR is how Deacon forces crowd participation. Sure, Darren Keen gets out in the audience and gets them involved, but Deacon makes almost every song a sing-a-long, includes a pseudo dance contest, even passes out lyric sheets and stinky plastic robes for a few unfortunate fans to wear during his final song (a rapacious version of “Wham City”). With the crowd of 50 or 60 packed so tightly around the front of the stage, with the red, green and white floor lights, Deacon’s show felt more like a weird religious event rather than a rock concert — a psionic cult happening, a throbbing dance ritual where you halfway expect grooving onlookers to begin floating in the air, trying their hardest to “renew” Logan’s Run-style. Instead, Darren Keen picked up one hearty soul and lifted him over his head and passed him around the crowd before he was set down in front of high priest Deacon. A religious experience indeed.

One last music note from the weekend: Went to see the film Once at The Dundee Theater Saturday night. I thought it — and its music — were terrific. Glen Hansard, the leading man, sounds like an Irish version of Cat Stevens, with music that at times is nearly as good. Hansard also is in the Irish band The Frames, who have released a handful of albums, including a couple on Anti Records. The Frames are opening for Bob Dylan in New Zealand and Australia in August. Once is a simple film filled with so much music and performances that it borders on being a musical (maybe technically it is). It isn’t a love story as much as a fable about a singer-songwriter making the record of his life. Check it out before it leaves.

Tonight at The Waiting Room it’s Suicide Squeeze artist Page France with Bear Country and Scissors for Lefty. France plays twee acoustic indie-folk songs that are always pretty, sung in frontman Michael Nau’s charming nasal croon. All Music said the press compares them to Bright Eyes or Jeff Tweedy. I don’t hear that at all, but you be the judge. Scissors for Lefty are the brothers Garza (three of them) and the brothers Krimmel (just two), singing upbeat indie rock songs in a style similar to Eagle*Seagull — vocalist Bryan Garza even sports an affected rasp similar to Eli Mardock’s (at least on the tracks I heard online). The show starts at 9 p.m. and costs $8.

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