Deerhunter just embarked on a North American tour in support of their excellent new album Fading Frontier, with frontman Bradford Cox also performing solo (as Atlas Sound) and serving as his own opener. Last night, they concluded a two-night run of shows at LA’s Regent Theater, and while the first one went off without a hitch, last night’s performance was plagued by technical difficulties, many false starts, and some memorable weirdness from Cox — remember, this is the guy who once covered “My Sharona” for an hour.
It seems that the Atlas Sound portion of the show proceeded as usual, and when Cox was joined by the rest of the band, they jumped immediately into Deerhunter material without sound-checking. After they played “Breaker” and launched into “Duplex Planet” off of Fading Frontier, things began to go awry, with Cox stopping the performance twice to complain about sound issues.
Things continued to get weirder from there, with the band stretching “Nothing Ever Happened” out into a 30-minute noise jam, interpolating Patti Smith’s “Land” (according to Setlist.fm), bringing a random girl from the audience up to the stage to play keyboards, and letting multiple people crowd-surf their way onto the stage as well.
As the fan who uploaded the second video describes it:
So this was halfway into Deerhunter’s set… Bradford brings up this random fan from the audience and starts to teach her how to play the tune. She was up there for what felt like 30 minutes, maybe a little less or more. This whole thing happened after they had all those issues with the monitors and sound and had to stop their set multiple times, and it felt a little bit like Bradford didn’t give a damn about sticking to the set anymore. Some other notable events in this highlight clip: Multiple other fans crowd surfed to the stage and interacted with Bradford as well, but they were all relatively respectful.
Also, something weird happened with plants? Cox started focusing on the potted plants that were decorating the stage, shaking them around and passing them out to the crowd.
While the show certainly seems to have been an interesting experience, it wasn’t an entirely positive one for many fans. People seemingly weren’t too thrilled by the constant interruptions, the bizarreness of everything, the relative lack of Fading Frontier material in the setlist, and Cox’s apparent disregard for audience expectations and enjoyment. Several concertgoers have taken to Facebook to express their anger and disappointment, posting lengthy messages on the band’s official page:
We drove down to LA from San Jose to see Deerhunter at the Regent last night. Deerhunter is one of my top favorite bands, so I was really excited to see them perform and maybe hear some of their new songs. The entire show was handled so poorly, I understand that there were some sound difficulties from the start, but they were never resolved and Bradford just didn’t take anything seriously after that I guess. I think I heard a total of 6 songs during the entire hour and a half set. Between each song there were very long and noisy sound loops and the band would walk off stage. I’m just really disappointed. The songs we did hear were super messy and terrible in general. We drove over 7 hours and spent our money on easily the worst concert I have ever been to.
Last night’s show at the Regent Theater was the worst show I’ve ever been to; waiting an hour and a half past the printed start time for the show to start, come on BRAD! Some of us work for a living… Then the sound difficulties – to the point where Brad stopped several times during songs to berate the sound tech guy because he couldn’t hear himself. Then, rather than sticking to the set list, we instead got a 30 min rendition of “Nothing Ever Happened”, during which people in the audience thought it appropriate to crash the stage. Then, after 2-3 more “songs” they just looped their synths and walked off stage. This isn’t some festival where people would be more accepting of this. This was a small venue in which people paid with their time and money to see this band play in a more intimate setting and they didn’t deliver. Incredibly disappointed.
Seriously fuck you brad there’s no need to be a dick to sound ppl doing their job. YOU didn’t do a sound check!! You just went straight from atlas sound to Deerhunter!!!!
What’s the point of releasing a new album if yr not gonna play all the new ones and instead play a scrappy version of nothing ever happened. Fucking prick.
It was my sisters first show ever and I thought it’d be cool to show her the realest Rock band but instead we got some noise rock bullshit. Wish I took her to Tame Impala or Thundercat as a starter show! But I’m glad she knows she can do anything on stage now, just wish Moses, josh and Lockett were louder because they were worth the time and money. Trust Brad, you were never gonna be louder if you kept screaming at people. Really hope that girl was 18 for your sake. Congrats on another $1000 in your pocket, YOU SUUUUURE EARNED IT.
OK Bradford. I am going to have to confiscate your delay and sustain pedal. Tonights show in LA proved that you can no longer be trusted to use as you did in the studio making this great album. Your torturous mind set on stage is passé. Robert Smith pulled it off in 1982 and then learned that his fans preferred to be entertained rather than hear him completely distort his art to the point of being annoying. So he dropped the bit he thought was cool and when he came to town next time to share his art, it looked recognizable. I’ve seen you on the East Coast and West and apparently it makes no difference. You just want to annoy us. I thought you were funny but after seeing you for the 3rd time – your schtick has lost it’s piss. You’re not funny if you do the same shit every time. Don’t have hissy’s about the sound man. It’s just too damn loud skinny bones jones. Now see, that was childish wasn’t it. So is your act. And BTW – I wished I didn’t drive 2 hours and only hear 1 song off of your new album. I really wasn’t into a 30 minute version of Nothing Ever Happens. Nothing did happen. Perhaps your thinking – “hmmm, how can I destroy all the great songs I write while playing live?” or “hmmm, I’m so clever and cool with my dark, twisted out there coolness.” Drop it. It’s old bro. All I got out of tonights show was a plant.
Man, I’m not mad, but I gotta say last night was the worst show I’ve ever seen. I drove 6+ hours from San Jose to see you guys too. My plan was to pick up some cds/vinyls afterwards, but halfway through I already just wanted to go home…
I’m not mad just disappointed. Everyone’s human and has bad days but man, you could’ve handled that so much better.
Seriously bro I know the sound was bad but you’re a diva and you don’t even sing rnb
Other fans, however, are viewing the whole thing in a more positive light:
if any other band spent five minutes shaking potted plants onstage i’d be pissed, but when deerhunter does it it’s kind of brilliant and hilarious
it was the strange mixture of beautiful and infuriating and bizarre that only deerhunter can pull off. bradford cox is an evil genius
So — irritating meltdown? Genius performance art? Somewhere in between? (An average Deerhunter show?)
Thanks to Stereogum reader Fuchi Iko for the tip.