Show Review: Deerhoof, Christina Schneider’s Genius Grant, Mayya and the Revolutionary Hell Yeah at Teragram Ballroom, 09/22/17

by Oliver Brink on September 25, 2017

Deeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrhooooooooooofff!

Deerhoof-30

I cannot start this without immediately stating my bias. I love Deerhoof. I’ve been in love with this strange quirky band since I was 16 years old in high school, and a friend of mine played the cleanest version that exists of “Gore in Crown,” though we knew it as “Gore in Beans.” They are a band that — for whatever reason — manages to attack their inspiration ceaselessly and never get redundant in doing so. Like Fugazi‘s later career, each album is new, fresh, and exciting, better than the album before it. This says nothing of their performances — of which the following is my fifth as an audience member — which always retain some of the highest energy of any show I’ve ever been to.

Upon arriving at the Teragram Ballroom, I was immediately struck — this being my first time — at how low the ceilings are. For a music venue in Los Angeles, it is deceptively petite to the eye, which gives it a homey appeal, recalling memories of the small bars and local venues that I frequented in my youth for live music. It’s a lovely venue and everyone working there is quite friendly and welcoming.

Mayya and the Revolutionary Hell Yeah-3

The first of the two opening acts of the tour, Mayya and the Revolutionary Hell Yeah, took the stage to a pretty small audience, but their high energy performance could be felt from the street outside. These San Francisco locals brought an ecstatic modern take on ‘60s psych pop that, if I didn’t know better, might have made me think they were among the ranks of bands who used to live on Haight Street like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and Big Brother and the Holding Company.

Christina Schneider's Genius Grant-4

Following was New York based Christina Schneider’s Genius Grant — a touring moniker for solo artist Christina Schneider — who took it down a notch but had a quirky technical side to them that made them natural touring mates for Deerhoof. Christina’s waif like vocals recall early Kate Bush, without being overly shrill, and the band was very focused, creating cohesion with a strange freeform quality.

Deerhoof-14

Now of course, we come to the point where I have to describe the somewhat indescribable energy that fills the room when Deerhoof takes to the stage. Launching straight into “Flower” from Apple O, Greg Saunier unleashed his unrelenting flurry upon his drum kit, a feat he would continue for the entire evening. I’m not sure there is a more intuitive band out there. Not only are John Dietrich and Ed Rodriguez two of the greatest guitar players to walk the earth, but when you combine them with Satomi Matsuzaki and Saunier, you have pure magic occurring.

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First of all, they play with the most minimal gear I’ve ever seen, outside of singer songwriter solo musicians, and they make it sound bigger than Metallica. On top of this, they’re so completely in tune with each other that they can individually let their part go in and out of chaos with an unheard of fluidity. For example, Saunier might suddenly drop his straight beat into a syncopated free jazz fill, and immediately Dietrich or Rodriguez will follow him, while Matsuzaki maintains the rhythm’s stability, an element that can only be experienced live.

Deerhoof-17

To put all of this simply, they are a band that knows how to have fun, and that fun is so infectious that you have to be a serious curmudgeon not to enjoy yourself, at which point you can kindly escort your ass out the front door. One of the staples of a Deerhoof show is when a sweat drenched Saunier leaves his three-piece kit and leans down to Matsuzaki’s microphone to tell a surreal tale filled with quirky humor. — in this case it was an increasing diatribe about Olive Garden and Tuscany — before introducing songs (“Polly Bee,” “Con Sordino,” and “Kafe Mania!”). The show ended with an extended noise coda to “Fresh Born,” with the band taking a brief break before returning for an encore set of “Mirror Monster” and “Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back,” the former receiving an extended improvised drum and guitar breakdown and the later involving a crowd rousing cheer runthrough from Matsuzaki, where she taught everyone how to do motion through cheering O-K-L-A.

Deerhoof Setlist

Their tour concludes in October. If they’re heading your way, take a leap. You won’t regret it.

Oliver Brink

Oliver is a lover of film, music, theatre, and art. He writes and works out of Los Angeles.

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