BEING THERE: Deerhoof @ Union Transfer

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At first blush, nothing about Deerhoof’s set at Union Transfer last night screamed ‘critically acclaimed band in their 20th year of music making.’ The awkwardness was tangible, from Satomi Matsuzaki’s adult-sized denim jumper and blue-dyed side ponytail, to drummer Greg Saunier’s haywire mop top and lanky boyishness. Opening with “Mirror Monster,” one of their more comparatively reserved tracks from the new La Isla Bonita, Deerhoof appeared to be holding back for bigger and better things, which soon proved true. The ensuing 16-song set was infectious and kinetic, drawing deep cuts from the full range of the band’s discography. The Deerhoof sound is a blend of precise, snappy percussion, three uniquely resonant, overlapping guitars, and Tokyo native Matsuzaki’s playful, high-pitched vocals — all of which made for an irresistibly upbeat performance, with moments of serious shredding and bouts of distortion that served as the spark that lit Deerhoof’s fire. Matsuzaki, bass guitar in hand, showed the crowd the most fitting way to dance to Deerhoof songs as she relentlessly bounced around onstage like a cracked-out, bass-playing Energizer Bunny, striking ninja poses and throwing up cutesy Kawaii peace signs. Saunier played up the theatrics onstage as well, throwing fits and generally acting maniacal behind the drum kit, which only intensified his drumming. Needless to say, this shameless kind of ridiculousness fit well with Deerhoof’s inherent wackiness. At one point, Saunier and Matsuzaki switched instruments, proving that like their song “Paradise Girls,” awesome women, in addition to jumping around playing the bass, can sing, and kill it on the drums. After a frenzied attempt to start a sing-along to “Come See The Duck,” Deerhoof’s set came to an end, leaving the crowd feeling dizzy, disoriented, and nauseatingly euphoric. –MARY LYNN DOMINGUEZ