After the debacle that was Dan Deacon's set at the Pitchfork Music Festival, I was both excited about getting a second chance to see him at the Hideout Block Party and nervous that seeing him at another outdoor festival would mean more of the same. To be sure I'd actually be able to see him this time, I got there extra early to make sure I'd be up close. Luckily, the 4pm time slot meant the festival was still reasonably empty, and there was only a small group of people standing around the table with two speakers that was set up on the ground in front of the south stage. After noticing no one seemed to be standing behind the table yet (and being told it was ok to do so), I got myself a nice spot standing directly behind Dan (which explains why most of my pictures are of his back!). Already, things were looking up.
As the crowd grew, Dan wandered over to finish setting up in all of his neon glory, with his trademark large red glasses taped around his balding head and a bright yellow tie-dyed shirt tucked into black cut-off shorts. After a short intro by the omnipresent Tim Tuten, Dan pointed up on stage to the guy who would be watching over the crowd making sure everyone was safe, an obvious response to the fact he had to end early at Pitchfork due to problems with the large crowd crammed in the small space. His services weren't needed, however, as the crowd proved to be able to have fun and be respectful of everyone's personal space at the same time.
Dan started us off with some stretching to "Under the Sea," then proceeded to have the crowd countdown from 45 (numbers 34 to 10 to be done silently while leering at a stranger in the crowd) before finally kicking off with "Okie Dokie" from this year's Spiderman of the Rings. The best part of actually seeing Dan Deacon this time around was watching him dance while he played his little keyboard and twisted the random knobs; his whole body sort of jiggles in a way that made me think of lemon jello.
I didn't recognize a lot of the songs Dan played, as only a couple of them were from Spiderman, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. Seeing him outdoors was clearly different than what his typical late-night show would entail, in part because he apparently has some effects that only work in the dark, but mostly because, as Dan said, "the crowd is usually belligerently drunk". I've been saying I'd like to see his legendary performance space shows, but something tells me they might border on out of control (anyone who may have gone to the AV-Aerie show later that night can confirm it for me?), and I'm getting too old for that- I'd rather just jump up and down in my own space and not have sweaty people ramming into me. Apparently, everyone else agreed; it was fun standing behind the set-up and looking out at the ridiculously happy faces of all the fans in the audience (are faces at all concerts always that jubilant, or was it just faces at Dan's? Something to think about . . .).
Dan threw in some more audience involvement activities, including having two lines of people form a "gauntlet" with their arms that audience members would have a "strut-off" through, which also gave some people in the back the opportunity to move up front when the space cleared out a bit. I guess it's easy (or maybe necessary?) to coordinate these sorts of games when the majority of your music is coming out an iPod.
Overall, Dan is fun, hilarious and original, and I'm glad I finally got to actually experience his show the way I'd been hoping to two months earlier.