Dan Deacon shows are akin to massive play dates for us maniacal youngsters. Running around the venue, clearing the floor for dance contests, wiggling out all of your stress while making a friend, that’s just what Dan’s shows are all about. On Saturday night, I got to experience all of that and more at The Billiken Club. Us staffers were extra nervous about reaching capacity and the possibility of having to turn people away, because let’s face it: St. Louis hasn’t experienced the forces of Dan Deacon in quite a long time. I just wasn’t sure we were ready for that jelly.
After a quick but very interesting trip to Home Depot to pick up colored light bulbs with Mr. Dan Deacon himself in the passenger seat, I settled in at The Billiken Club to feast my eyes and ears on an amazing show.
St. Louis’ own The Pragmatic (featuring Andre Allen Anjos of RAC) came along with Lite-Brites and synthy-as-the-devil jams to get the party started. I appreciated their sound, however as one person in the crowd said, they were just TC (or, too cool).But that doesn’t really matter much, it’s not like my remix of Radiohead’s “Nude” is in the Top 10 or anything. All in all, the crowd was very into them. They churned out dancy casio-laden songs similar to the whole Justice/nu-rave/neon/white kids in Starter jackets craze right now.
Lawrence, KS’ Ad Astra Per Aspera had much more of a raw sound, not completely relying on trendy hooks to get the crowd pumpin’. They laid out more than their synths on the table. The band’s pseudo-psychedelic but new-wave sound set them apart. They reminded me a bit of the Red Light Sting, a group I am somewhat embarrassed to admit I listened to in high school, solely because they are affiliated with the (now defunct) Blood Brothers. That comparison sounds negative, but it isn’t. Their sound combined aggressive riffs and vocals laid over pulsating tribal beats and hand claps. See? It was good.
Wham City’s own Dan Deacon hit the stage (or the ground, per se) last. People began snapping photos of him left and right setting up his hot mess of a soundboard on his humble performance space. Someone brought him a pinata they stole from the in-venue burrito bar, to which he said, “This motherfucker is going to stay back here for a while” and set it under his table.
As soon as his green skull raised high above his head, the crowd knew it was about to go down. The show was going well, he had even managed to get the crowd crazy after all of those calisthenics he made us do, until one of his monitors blew out. I thought fists were going to fly, but Deacon carried out his set even with the technical set-back. He played crowd favorites such as “Crystal Cat”, “Snake Mistakes” and “Pink Batman” and I totally wanted to dance like crazy, if it weren’t for the girl next to me in a red pleather jacket. WHO WEARS PLEATHER (OF ANY KIND) TO DAN DEACON? I can’t decide if it’s totally someone stupid or ingenius. His set included an visually mind-blowing dance contest between audience members, an intense London Bridge-esque hoe-down, and a rowdy sing-along to his epic jam, “Wham City”.
What I found amazing about Dan is that he definitely did not take himself too seriously, both during his performance and before/after the show. Unlike some local St. Louis bands, he did not act like he was above the people who were helping him out with the show. Although he did swipe some of my breakfast potatoes at City Diner…