General Info Dan Deacon (b. August 28, 1981) was born and raised in New York. He studied electronic composition at SUNY Purchase, where he earned a M.A. in same and also released his first couple albums in the early 2000's. After graduating, Deacon moved to Baltimore and has since become a fixture in the city's underground art scene. Deacon is, of course, an electronic artist. His gear is a pastiche of high-end pads and sequencers, pawn-shop keyboards, bent circuits, an iPod shuffle attached to a banana, and lots of colored tape. His catalog ranges from avant-garde electro-acoustic compositions to giddy glitch-meets-breakcore that Pitchfork has described this way: "It's like Deacon's switch got stuck somewhere between 'irritate' and 'captivate' and he decided to never bother fixing it." Indeed, Deacon has a relentless and uncompromising vision. He records and tours almost constantly, yet a great deal of his work is not done by traditional means. He has been known to self-release material, stage guerrilla shows, or deliberately sabotage TV appearances. This is the aesthetic that Dan Deacon brings to all his projects. For the tour supporting his most recent, and ambitious, album Bromst, Deacon assembled a 14-piece ensemble. This is a departure, as Deacon had never before toured with a backing band, but that adds to the specialness of the Bonnaroo show. The Ensemble features friends from other Baltimore-based acts like Double Dagger, Teeth Mountain, Videohippos and Future Islands playing multiple guitars, basses, drum kits, percussion, keyboards and string and mallet instruments behind Deacon's usual electronic set-up. Although for his solo shows he is known for setting up and performing in the middle of the audience, for his Ensemble shows Deacon will be on stage with his band.
Bromst (2009, Carpark)
Released just last year, this was Dan Deacon's most complex and ambitious project. The compositions were intricately traced out and scored for multiple acoustic and electronic instruments. In a sense, it is a synthesis of his respective modern classical and dance-pop leanings. If there is only one record you should check out, it should be Bromst; not only because it is Deacon's best work to date, but also because the majority of their set will likely come from this record.
Spiderman of the Rings (2007, Carpark)
Deacon's breakthrough garnered rave reviews for many critics, including an 8.7 from Pitchfork plus the #24 spot on their year-end Best Albums list. It features some of his vaguely well-known tracks that have since been used in advertising or played on (very) alternative radio stations.
Acorn Master EP (2006, Psych-O Path)
This EP marked a sea change for Deacon, leaving behind his avant-garde electro-acoustic work for the more accessible, dance-oriented sound that has brought him such popularity and praise. A bit rough around the edges in comparison to Spiderman of the Rings or Bromst, but worthwhile for the serious fan.
Green Cobra Is Awesome Verses the Sun (2003, self-released)
One of Deacon's first albums, this is a 41-minute composition for six sine waves. Throughout the piece, the waves very slowly rise and fall in pitch, independent of one another, to create fascinating timbral interplay and overtone beating. While highly experimental and having almost no relation to his popular work, Green Cobra... is captivating in its concept and also offers another perspective on Deacon's art.
*NOTE: Dan Deacon, stand-up guy that he is, has made all his material prior to Spiderman of the Rings available for free download off his website. Enjoy!
Sounds Like Genre: indie dance/rock, experimental dance Similar Artists: Girl Talk, Devo, Animal Collective, Black Moth Super Rainbow, F*ck Buttons, Yip-Yip, Caribou, Matmos each share at least a little DNA. Similar Bonnaroo Artists: Neon Indian, Ween, They Might Be Giants, deadmau5 by a long stretch. None are that close, of course.
Video Samples To get an idea of how the Dan Deacon Ensemble are live, check out this 40-minute video of their set at Whartscape (see below) last year. It's cut in a few places and the audio isn't the best, but you can see very well how Deacon and his band operate, respectively and together.
A taste of Dan Deacon live (performing solo):
Music video for "The Crystal Cat" from Spiderman of the Rings, by filmmaker and friend Jimmy Joe Roche:
No explanation needed:
FYI Dan Deacon has contributed at least two significant things to the underground Baltimore art scene:
Wham City. Co-founded by Deacon, Wham City is a community of artists living and collaborating together in a warehouse in downtown Baltimore.
Whartscape festival. Deacon founded and curates this multi-day event (a take-off on the city's annual Artscape festival) which takes place in late summer and features a number of obscure and up-and-coming rock, dance and experimental musical performances for a very low ticket price. Performances in the past have included Girl Talk, Beach House, Wolf Eyes, Matmos, Ponytail and of course Deacon himself in a myriad of incarnations.
Also of note is last year's Round Robin tour, organized by Deacon and which featured over a dozen local acts from Baltimore. For each stop during the night the artists would set up along side one another around the periphery of the venue, and during the show they would each take a turn playing one song. The audience, in the middle and literally surrounded by the bands, would be continually reorienting themselves as the performances bounced around the room.
Live Show: What to Expect For a detailed description, please read this concert review/blog I wrote after seeing him solo in the spring of '08. Beyond that, here are some words I have to say about Dan Deacon at Bonnaroo...
Our beloved festival has a talent for booking terrific live acts: people with ample skill, energy and creativity. Therefore it's often difficult to single out who truly has something unique to offer. However, if you've read though this guide, checked out the videos and music samples and such, then you probably know by now that the Dan Deacon Ensemble will be one of these. On top of the stellar dance tracks and pulsing energy, Deacon will interact with each and every one of you and make it a communal creation of art. He derives as much enjoyment from his fans as they do from him, and you will walk away feeling not that you have seen an amazing show but that you helped put on an amazing show.
Post by nodepression on Mar 26, 2010 10:46:53 GMT -5
I was at one of those round robin shows, couldn't have been more than 30 people there. He made everyone put their hands in the middle on top of his. Beach House played too, probably the last time they'll do a show that small.
Great write up, definitely going to use this template.
A Thieve's Parade 2/24 Conspirator 2/26 Kevin Smith 3/11 Keller 3/17 Papadosio 3/18 JJ Grey 3/25 Bela Fleck/Edgar Meyer 3/26 Toubab Krewe 3/27 O'Death 4/11 Budos Band 4/22 EOTO 4/28 Summer Camp 5/6-29 All Good
... and a matter of hours later, the DDE is announced as one of the late night sets.
I have to say that, as electronic, loud and danceable as Deacon's shows are, I was actually kind of expecting him to be in the daytime. In some ways I think he would have worked better then, mostly because of all the ancillary shenanigans. My instinct is that people won't be as interested in them at night, and will just want to dance. But I could be wrong. Hope it's fun either way!