the wonder ballroom was turned into a ramshackle social experiment on friday night, the person behind it was dan deacon. i went expecting a fairly straight forward nob twiddling with some live instruments show, that was not it at all. it’s hard to categorize dan deacon’s music, i often just designate it under arty electronica meant for a party in a gallery. so seeing him in a large venue like the wonder ballroom already seemed a bit off. on this tour he has an ensemble of twelve musicians, which worried me a bit, i thought it could turn into a cacophonous mess.
the crowd around me didn’t seem to know who dan deacon was or what to what to expect, a few of them were turned off by his long set up time and his nit picky way of setting the levels in the monitors, so they retreated to the bar. i understand why dan has to so precise about the set up, when dealing with distorted sounds things have to be right or it just sounds like chaos.
dan and his ensemble produced the perfect soundtrack for the evening. dan was behind his board crowded with equipment, four keyboardists, three drummers, a guitarist, a bass player, a woodwind player, and someone with wiimotes (!!!). at first they were askew, it came off ill sounding, about halfway into the second song they got it together and kept it. dan took on the roll of conductor and producer, it seemed like the instruments, except for the drums, were fed through dan’s board. mixing live instruments with mostly sampled circuit bent music is always a risky gamble, dan was smart at the controls and it all melded together. the setlist, of course, featured the most recent album bromst, but also contained songs from the noisier early ep’s. the live versions of the songs were zippy and full of boisterous fun.
the show started with dan deacon leading the audience in some movements to get us “in the zone”. once the music started the crowd was pretty wild. a couple of songs in dan organized a dance contest, two people would dance then tag someone in the crowd. this started a pattern every couple of songs he would organize a audience movement, he had people dancing through tunnels that other people made and had the crowds running in circles. i’m not much of the audience participant, but the rest of the crowd got into it. it was a lot of fun to watch, and i was thankful i was on the wrong side of the barricade. by the end of the evening the show had taken on almost a sermon feeling, with dan deacon as the pastor. the devotion was a bit creepy, but wholly entertaining.