Review: Deerhunter

Deerhunter. Photo Michael Eidelson Deerhunter. Photo Michael Eidelson

Halcyon Digest is the only album from Deerhunter that I’ve engaged with fully and felt personally moved after listening to it a few years ago. Gloomy with distinct moods on each track, that album in particularly had a special place for me discovering the indie rock scene. The Atlanta collective has a superb discography that is lavished in sound with each release, this past Sunday they were able to showcase their dynamic catalogue of music to a sold out crowd at Le National theatre.

Lead singer Bradford Cox and accompanying musicians started out the set with the first two songs from their 2008 album Microcastles. Spotting veteran fan members was a cakewalk, within the first few chords of each song they knew what to expect and sang along to every word. The venue was tightly packed but felt gentle, like a giant house party full of people tired from a weekend of outings and just wanted to chill instead of going hard. The lights weren’t programed for anything special but added a warmth to the stage that was occupied entirely by Deerhunter’s energy. They eventually played some songs off of Halcyon Digest which humbled me to utter sheer excitement. “Desire Lines” and “Helicopter” were undoubtedly my favorite songs that the band performed that night, the mesmerizing unison of playing that gushed confidence from each musician showered the audience members with glee. It was a special moment in the night to witness your teenage tunes come to life with such flair and liveness.

Cox had a quirky stage presence and great sense of humor the entire time. He would walk off to the side from time to time and seemed to always be checking on something. When he returned he would joke about how he only drinks beer in Canada, or how the band Kings of Leon will help them with further success in the mainstream opening for them on tour later this year. Most of all he came off as genuine and thanked the crowd for coming. He dedicated the show to a friend that passed away one year ago and kept talking about how special the city was to both himself and the band. Blue Skies Turn Black apparently was the first promoter to back the band in Montréal and get them to play here way back in 2005, ever since then they’ve returned multiple times and have accumulated a mass following of dedicated fans.

For the encore set the band started with the track “Fluorescent Grey” which is off of the EP of the same name. It was my first time ever coming across this song and it was at their live show, absolutely stunning how it translates live onto the stage! The track sounds like it has a super heavy shoe-gaze influence within the way the guitars sound and the wall of noise that builds in the middle. “Twilight at Carbon Lake” was also another highlight for the encore, more screechy guitars that wailed and shook the walls of Le National. After the show I was in disbelief how Halcyon Digest has been my one investment in any of their music, I missed out hard and needed to catch up with their line of work quick.

If you hear of Deerhunter heading back into town then without a doubt grab a ticket quick, don’t sleep on them. Cox makes for a wonderful performer and kept himself engaged with the audience while also being able to have his own fun on stage. The band worked together to put on a memorable show in the early new year of 2017, let’s keep it going.