The members of Deerhoof have said that they are never sure what kind of music they will create next. Since the band's formation in 1994, it has kept fans and critics guessing, too.
While the San Francisco group's earmark may be unpredictability, a Deerhoof show is sure to include batty stage antics and a kaleidoscopic sound. Those who were lucky enough to make it out to the group's set at the Club at Water Street on Saturday night were not disappointed.
Local mainstays The Demos opened the show with a 30-minute set filled with seriously infectious indie pop. Among the Rickenbacker-based jangle, falsetto, and feedback, the band had a distinct edge. The set standout, "Careless", showcased the group's ability to meander through the sweeter chimes of alt-rock into the noisier side of power-pop while making you forget when and how the barrier was crossed.
Next up was People Get Ready and its Brooklyn brand of indietronica. With its loose, irregular guitars and bass-driven, technically orchestrated songs, the band also gave off a little of that mod revival vibe. Among the dueling male/female vocal harmonies was a certain reverberating world beat and layers of disparate soundscapes that seemed to find a common coastline to call their own. The set was nothing if not danceable.
But, as solid as the supporting acts were, it was Deerhoof's room.
"The Tears and Music of Love," from the band's 2008 album "Offend Maggie," opened the set and immediately shot the audience into a frenzy. The dissonant, grating guitars placed over front-woman Satomi Matsuzaki's cute, melodic verses are the perfect example of what makes Deerhoof's sound so enigmatic.
Crowd favorite "Panda, Panda, Panda," aside from its silly and simplistic lyrical content, is an exhibition of genius instrumentation -- the band fell in and out of recognizable time signatures at will, pushing and pulling the audience along an art-rock rollercoaster ride.
John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez's guitars filled the room with an assemblage of vivid tones and complex fuzz. They burned through musical styles like marathon runners sweat through socks, jumping from heavy, plodding funk to almost arena-like jazz-rock riffs. All this while drummer Greg Saunier got more out of a five-piece drum set than the Sioux got out of a buffalo. Saunier was violent, in the Stanley Kubrick, destruction-is-beautiful sense of the word. But his technical prowess was just as impressive, as he led his bandmates on a charging symphonic onslaught.
The show was a meet of musical gymnastics: the band soared and twisted and twirled, only to stick the landing every time.
Set closer "We Do Parties" wrapped it up perfectly. Satomi crooned, "I am coming to you from a speaker deep inside." She sure was. And that speaker was crackling with resplendent, soul-shaking noise.