The opening half of the show was plagued by an over-enthusiastic audience. Deacon performs right in the front of the crowd, hunched over his table of electronics, and it seemed that between every song he grew increasingly irritated at having to ask the crowd not to push into each other or him, knocking him against his equipment. He was, understandably, already cranky from a bus breakdown that delayed the show's doors from opening until 9 p.m., and things didn't really get into a groove until Deacon instructed the audience members to take two steps back and wave their arms around to make sure they weren't bumping into anybody. Granted, half a minute into the next song everyone crowded together again, but most seemed to take the hint and made an effort not to be obnoxious.
It was interesting side to see where a guy who organizes all kinds of fun audience dances and games--he had audience members rooting for a dance contest between people dressed as a circle and a triangle, and closing their eyes and spinning in slow circles to "Snookered"--draws the line at "too rowdy." But, as he pointed out, it wasn't a hardcore show. No one goes to see Dan Deacon to get beat up and come home bruised.
Once the crowd settled, Deacon seemed to loosen up for the most part, aside from frequent requests to the sound guy for "more synth in monitor four!" even during crowd dance-alongs. It shows the interesting dichotomy behind Deacon's personality and music. Yes, it's still a guy in the tackiest imaginable outdoor-sporting-store deer t-shirt with pitched-shifted cartoon vocals singing his songs under the light of a glowing green plastic skull. He's also a music conservatory alumnus who studied electro-acoustic and computer music composition, and his music is absurd but not simple.
It was a pleasant surprise, then, to find out that Bromst is such a fantastic dance record. Deacon's ensemble focused almost exclusively on songs off his new album, aside from his trademark "The Crystal Cat" and non-album (from what I can find) concert favorite "Silence Like the Wind Overtakes Me." The songs are lush and complex, but driving and incredibly well-paced. On headphones, they can be appreciated for the intricate layering and hypnotic effect, but on the concert floor the ensemble pulses and swells, and the songs seem to retreat and explode in the perfect manner to keep the crowd invigorated and dancing throughout the whole set.
There's also a sense of community at a Deacon show that I hope doesn't go away with the increased crowd sizes, as it seemed at the show's start. It's admirable that Deacon keeps himself right in the the crowd, and dancing alongside him and other fans is sheer fun. Deacon gave a spiel encouraging the audience to dance, even those who thought they couldn't, because the fun of dancing is precisely about not caring if you can or not, but enjoying yourself. The speech might not have peeled any wallflowers, but the music and the rush of the crowd did.
Dan Deacon is getting bigger, but that hasn't clipped the sense of joy from his music. Bromst seems more refined and even a bit more serious than its predecessor, Spiderman of the Rings, but it's just as fun to dance to. A huge ensemble on stage just gives the music more force. Here's hoping the the increasing crowds can take Deacon at his own terms and keep the party going.
-To the tall dude in the tux who was dancing with toy Hulk gloves before the show: Kudos! This is the type of fun I expect at a Dan Deacon gig!