Monday, January 28, 2008
Dan Deacon's Ultimate Reality @ Lakeshore Theater, 1/25/08
I wasn't really in the mood for the crazy free-for-all that Saturday night's Girl Talk/Dan Deacon shows must have been (will have to wait for RFC's Kirstiecat to report back), but when I found out Dan Deacon was taking his Ultimate Reality DVD on the road with a live solo set the night before at the Lakeshore Theater, I was very intrigued. What would this DVD entail, exactly? How would a Dan Deacon show work in a theater with seats? Would he still manage to perform his trademark set on the floor instead of the stage?
After Jason Ajemian made the kids antsy and chatty with a somewhat out-of-place opening performance involving doing strange things to an upright bass (like whack the strings with a mallet), a couple of drum sets were set up in front of a large screen. The lights went down, recorded music by Dan came on over the loudspeakers, and some old-school Arnold Schwarzenegger footage from Conan the Barbarian kicked things off. In fact, the entire DVD was a psychedelic homage to all things Arnold, with footage from Predator, Terminator, Junior, Twins, Kindergarten Cop, etc. etc. etc., all colored in neon and mashed together by Jimmy Roche into one ridiculous and hilarious assault of the senses (a pregnant Arnold is funny on its own; a pregnant Arnold in slow motion is downright hysterical). After a few minutes drummers Kevin O'Meare of Video Hippos and Jeremy Hyman of Ponytail, two fellow Baltimore bands, provided some intense synchronized drumming. The audience seemed virtually paralyzed throughout the entire performance until one audience member finally ran up to the stage to try to dance, instigating a mass rush from the audience to the stage. Comically, this happened just in time for the DVD to end, which I appreciated as a bunch of moshing hipsters would have been a little distracting.
Now that the seal had been broken, however, the 20 minutes before Dan began his solo set involved watching kids jump over seats trying to squeeze into the 15 feet of open space between the stage and the front row. Which is exactly where Dan Deacon decided to set up. Later telling us this was his first performance in a seated theater, he proved that regardless of the venue, never shall his table rest on a stage. As usual, this meant only people right up front could see him, but he threw us a bone by having a video camera pointing down at him from the stage so everyone who chose to remain in the seats (see: me) could check out the action and see his "trippy green skull" glow. Having seen him twice already (though always outdoors sans light show), a Dan Deacon show certainly has a specific formula which changes minorly depending on the venue:
1) Begin stretching with crowd to random song (Run DMC in this case, previously "Under the Sea")
2) Provide inane story that involves audience participation, including staring at a stranger, kneeling down and pointing in various directions
3) Turn story into some strange countdown that is spoken using various emotions as the numbers go down, possibly involving Ethan Hawke's career
4) Play some music, jump/jiggle up and down, kids go crazy, lose cell phones and cameras on floor
5) Commence dance contest
6) Have audience do the gauntlet around the room
7) Sing "Silence Like the Wind Overtakes Me" with the audience
Overall Dan provided us with a good time as usual, though I'm definitely too old to get down and dirty with the crazy moshpits and gauntlets these days. But I sure did appreciate that seat.
Most of my pictures are of are the video screen or the ridiculous crowd. Check it out.