The Verse’s Charlotte Crane tells us what she thought of Deerhoof & Stargaze’s performance at the Brighton Dome, as part of the 2018 Brighton Festival.
I’m sure that many people who attended this gig agree with me when I say, I didn’t know quite what to expect. I was aware that experimental indie pop band Deerhoof would be performing, along with classically trained orchestral group Stargaze. They would in some way be paying homage to post-hardcore group Fugazi’s album In on the Kill Taker. Although not incredibly familiar with Fugazi, I was confident that whatever Deerhoof and Stargaze would produce would be interesting, at the very least.
The performance opened with Greg Saunier, drummer of Deerhoof taking to the microphone to introduce the first half of the show. Awkward yet incredibly endearing, the audience were informed that he had created an arrangement of Fugazi’s album to be performed by Stargaze. I was incredibly relieved when Greg told the audience that previously to this, he himself had never listened to Fugazi. He then explained that the 12 track album was to be performed as nine solo pieces and three ensemble performances. This idea of a multi-instrumental songs boiled down into solo pieces to be played by a flute or a cello intrigued me.
I’m not going to pretend I am well informed in the realm of orchestral performance. Deerhoof were the main selling point of this gig for me. However, this is exactly what the Brighton Festival is all about. Exposing yourself to exclusive and unique performances you would not normally have access to and immersing yourself in something new. Stargaze performed fantastic simplified versions of songs such as Public Witness Program and Sweet and Low. Although the disjointed and simplistic nature of their solo performances were at times difficult to listen to, it was so special to see how Greg Saunier had captured the essence of each song. The few times Stargaze performed as an ensemble gave a small insight into how they come together to fill the room with an all-encompassing sound. Despite Stargaze’s performance landing outside my usual musical comfort zone, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience to listen to something stimulating and intriguing.
After an interval, Deerhoof took to the stage to perform songs from their extensive back catalogue. The band mainly focused on their most recent album, Mountain Moves, filling the concert hall up with funk ridden noise rock. Lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki’s energy was impeccable, performing lively yet dainty choreographed dance moves as she sang and played bass. I was so pleased to hear Deerhoof play ‘Paradise Girls’, the song that originally brought my attention to the band in 2014. Greg continued to impress me through his incredible drumming skills and obvious enthusiasm for the music he produces.
An aspect of Deerhoof’s performance that truly impressed me was their professionalism and ability to recover during technical difficulties. Satomi had ongoing issues with her microphone, with it turning off altogether at one point. Her bandmates managed to keep the music and the energy going despite this, with Satomi even inviting members of Stargaze on to stage to keep the music alive. Once the fault had been remedied, Deerhoof returned to business unfazed. I couldn’t help thinking of other musical acts I have seen in the past, who would throw childish tantrums if technical difficulties lead to a bad performance. Deerhoof showed that a good level of professionalism, along with a sense of humour means you can easily overcome a musician’s worst nightmare seamlessly.
Stargaze then rejoined Deerhoof for their finale, an excellent rendition of ‘I Will Spite Survive.’ As a big fan of this song, it was great to hear it enriched with the orchestral stylings of Stargaze. Safe to say I had the line ‘you could outlive your executioners‘ swimming around my head for the next week following the gig.
Overall, it was an exciting and joyful night of music that I won’t forget any time soon. Although the wonderful Brighton festival will soon be coming to a close, there’s still chances to catch some excellent entertainment. The Verse would recommend catching the wonderful and eccentric Ezra Furman perform tonight at the Dome, I for one am absolutely gutted that I won’t be able to attend. If you’re interested in purchasing tickets you can visit the Brighton Festival website here.