In my last review of the Jan. 18 Girl Talk concert at The Pageant, I commented that the first time I saw Girl Talk, Dan Deacon opened for them and arguably made the show the fantastic experience that it was. Friday, I saw Dan Deacon again, headlining this time. How did he fare? Read on to find out.
When I saw Dan Deacon open for Girl Talk, I suspected (and continue to suspect, based on my subsequent Girl Talk experiences), that he he made the whole show better. Dan Deacon at this show did not have the benefit of two great openers. In fact, they were listed as “TBA” on the venue’s website, and both of them only mumbled their names so I never really new who they were. And they were both generally “blah” enough that I don’t want to put in the effort to look the up.
Both were 1 man electronic acts. Neither new what to do with an audience of this size (there were maybe 300 people there). And both had electronic difficulties where they had to stop the show. So basically, it wasn’t anything that great. The audience wasn’t having that much fun. I was spending my time looking at the people around me. There were some hipsters, a bearded gay couple (age: 30-50), some girls so tiny that I was worried they may get crushed, and some old dudes trying to pretend they weren’t old with their younger girlfriends. It was quite a mix and even the best spirited people in the audience (myself included) were feeling doubtful about the overall quality of the show. Also, there was no bar.
Then Dan Deacon came on. He had his table setup in front of (not on) the stage, as is his deal. I think he would have preferred to have been in the middle of the audience, but he didn’t complain. He did mention that he only arrived at the show a few minutes before it was about to start and that he had no time to sound check. I can verify this, because he walked in from outside around 8:30 when his show was supposed to start.
So, he’s setting things up and his mixer doesn’t work. He thinks he’s got it working and starts the show. Even with these technical difficulties, this set change took much less time than traditional ones. I would say it was only like 15 minutes between when the last opener ended and when Deacon started.
He began his set by having everyone put their hands up, stare at people who weren’t putting their hands up and say the name of some 80s TV character I was not familiar with 3 times. Almost instantly, the audience had forgotten about the 2 subpar openers and was ready to party. He started his first song (I am not too good with his song titles) and everyone went nuts dancing. A couple minutes in, his mixer broke. He tried a couple different ones before making his original one work and the down time, while annoying, was tolerable. It was clear that Deacon was frustrated but wouldn’t let these difficulties bring him down.
For the next hour, Deacon killed it. He brought the audience back. He survived nearly getting crushed against his stage, pretty much every song. He actually got people to spread out so that everyone had room to dance. He managed to make everyone lose themselves in the moment. All the people I saw around me not having fun during the opening bands were having a blast with Deacon (and I don’t believe all of them were previously familiar with his work).
Several times, he brought the people together to bond in some kind of communal way, successfully getting people out of their comfort zones. We faced some dude in the center and put our hands on the heads of the people in front of us, thought about things we didn’t like about ourselves, thought about things that made us happy, and then danced. So much moving.
When he said he only had time for 1 more song, I turned to my friend Ben who I was at the show with and said “This next song is going to change your life.” and Deacon went into his closer which, the first time I saw it, was one of my favorite live music experiences of all time: Wham City. There is nothing happier than this 10 minute adventure, and experiencing it live is a true communal event.
Unfortunately, due to all the technical issues, Deacon was only able to perform the first half of it (until the quiet part in the middle). Having seen the whole thing played out before, I was a bit bummed, but looking around, no one else was. Deacon didn’t let on that the set was cut short. The people around me seemed overjoyed, and even I couldn’t help from smiling. After the show, I went up and shook his hand and I have to say, he seems like a really nice guy, even though he turned down the offer of the PBR in my trunk.
So, after seeing both of them multiple times, I would say that I would pick a Dan Deacon show over a Girl Talk show any day of the week for the following reasons: It’s a more communal experience that leaves you feeling a little bit better about the world coming out of it. I don’t know a whole lot of other concerts that I feel that way about. Side note (and I seriously mean this as a side note): It is much cheaper and much easier to get tickets to a Dan Deacon concert.