Dan Deacon live is always a gathering. A fully interactive experience in which, either by choice or by fear of cowardliness, you end up participating in. This past Wednesday, in Toronto’s Phoenix Concert Theatre, wasn’t an exception.
The evening started on a high note, with an electric performance by Prince Rama, a two-piece, “now age,” psych-dance band out of Brooklyn. Prince Rama are sisters Taraka and Nimai Larson and, without a doubt, bring their wildly creative imagination to all of their apocalyptic performances. The Larsons have literary touched the audience – crowd-surfing, dancing with them, feeling out strangers faces and petting young boys’ cheeks. In a nutshell Prince Rama are magnetic, it is impossible to look away and not dance to their Top Ten Hits of the End of the World, their sixth pseudo-compilation album. As an opener for Dan Deacon, they made perfect sense.
After a brief break and a fairly secretive stage set up, the curtain dropped, reveling Deacon’s gear and a colorful patchwork backdrop. As a man gifted with the skill of conversation, Deacon began the show with an anxiety cleanse, we breathed in each other’s worries and turned them into “cool beans” – the opposite of anxiety. And so it began.
Halfway into the first track, the ground begun to shiver to the sounds of Gliss Riffer. The room was fairly quickly divided into halves; for dance competitions, contests and, a first one for me, an English stream of high fives during which balloons began to rain down onto the crowd. Cool beans – check. A few songs into the show, the background dropped revealing a two-peace band, guitar and drums, seamlessly joining into Dan Deacon’s cheerful performance. Having seen Deacon a few times over the years, the band was definitely a new, refreshing touch.
If you’ve never seen Deacon before, a stream of “what the fuck” thoughts might pass through your head throughout the night, but if this isn’t your first Deacon experience, you know you’re in for something special. The man is a mad genius and he will turn your frown upside down.
photos by Samuel Engelking