Dan Deacon’s return to Dublin is cause for excitement in itself but with the quality supporting line-up of local talent sure keep him on his toes, it’s even more so. The Baltimore musician is renowned for his live shows, which are communal, participatory affairs held together by his madcap ringleader act – in the past he’s employed a 14-piece ensemble as well as helming a novel ’round robin’ tour with No Age and Deerhunter.
First up tonight are newcomers Last Days Of 1984. The duo have labelled their music as ‘beach house’, this may be tongue-in-cheek but gives you an idea of their sound, which has a summery, tropical electronic feel to it. You can’t help but feel they’re a bit late to a party that’s well into the early hours at this stage – this kind of music has been all over the blogosphere like a heat rash of late, and the deal-breaker may be how much of it you’ve been exposed to. Then again, they’re only getting started, and the simmering, early Yeasayer-tinged ‘Francois Truffaut’ is a definite standout. They’re followed by Angkorwat, the solo project of Niamh Corcoran, who’s been gigging regularly of late as well as working on new material. In comparison to her excellent recorded output so far – which tended to be lo-fi in approach – her live set is much more imposing, immersive and bass-heavy, with even recognisable songs like ‘My Three Beautiful Children’ given a makeover.
Fresh from the release of the gripping Golden Syrup, it’s Patrick Kelleher And His Cold Dead Hands who well and truly throw down the gauntlet for the headliner. Overcoming some technical hitches, they turn in a superb set where the ominous bass rumble of ‘Too Many Harsh Words’ and the haunted ghost-disco of ‘Contact Sports’ mix with the wistful melancholy of ‘Broken Up Now’ and a cover of Grace Jones’ ‘Pull Up To The Bumper’. Kelleher’s versatile vocals are the compelling centre-point, but the Cold Dead Hands back him up perfectly with gothic synth-pop grooves and retro-nodding synths. It all reaches a peak with a scintillating version of ‘Seen Me Blue’.
They own the stage so comprehensively that it’s just as well Dan Deacon prefers to perform among the crowd. Setting up his sound-desk/table on the floor, he’s dwarfed by his now-trademark green strobe skull. In recent years there’s been a few grumbles that Deacon’s fondness for fun and games had begun to overshadow the music (a particularly stop-start Primavera set a couple of years back comes to mind), but tonight that’s not the case: the mix is loud and clear, and his brand of kaleidoscopic, trippy electro sounds as thrilling and rush-inducing as it ever has. The spasmatic buzzing rhythms of ‘Snake Mistakes’ and the helium-voiced anthem ‘Crystal Cat’ would be just as uplifting if performed by a static figure hiding behind a laptop, but when mixed with Deacon’s sense of fun the effect is even more joyous. Along with some entertaining dance-off action, at one stage he also creates a human tunnel that stretches out the door along The Button Factory’s corridor and back to the stage. At the same time, it can be easy to forget how cerebral and intricate a lot of Deacon’s music is, especially the material from his most recent album Bromst, sounding completely hypnotic at times. Stand-outs tonight include the throbbing bass groove of ‘Woof Woof’ and the mini-epic ‘Snookered’, but the best is saved for last: the glorious ‘Wham City’, pure aural bliss and one of the most thrilling live songs you’ll witness… or be a part of, to be more exact.
Photos by Gareth Sharkey.