Atlanta’s alt-prog spaceketeers Deerhunter returned to NYC for three shows celebrating the release of their seventh album Fading Frontier, the second night of which was a packed sold out brouhaha at Manhattan’s Irving Plaza. To further entice their legions of fans, the mad scientist at the lead loony of the group Bradford Cox also opened the show with his solo Atlas Sound project. True, he has come to some extra attention as of late with some public scuffles with the likes of the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne (that turned out to be a kind of weird-off joke of some sort), and most recently with Smashing Pumpkin’s “Bully” Corgan (that is unlikely to also come to a somewhat humorous resolution), but tonight was straight-forwardly about the rather scientific formulation of the experiment that is the unique Bradford Cox sound.
As Bradford emerged on stage to begin the festivities with his towering lanky presence, feeling as though he could reach right through you from yards away, his looming demeanor was one of determination, intent on crafting as dense of a soundscape as possible, using two keyboard setups and a variety of gorgeous guitars from his arsenal. Atlas Sound is Cox’s far more electronic persona, but it is not without its diversity. One minute he could be bending both space and time with a mind-blowing atmosphere of layered synths and electro beats, and the next he could be serenading you from the clouds with just his axe and his uniquely distorted and reverbed vocal style.
Then, it was time for Bradford’s decade-old full-band project Deerhunter, who tore right out of the gate with one of my favorite tracks of theirs, “Desire Lines” from 2010’s Halcyon Digest, that features guitarist Lockett Pundt on lead vocals. While Atlas tends to more mystify and woo, Deerhunter has a far more full-powered soaring formula. Their drifting and buoyant melodies as well as buzzing and humming instrumentations feel like more of deep space explorations than the more laboratory-fixed experimentations of Bradford solo.
The whole set seemed to be building up to some loud massive crescendo, as though it were all one epically long song. The cresting wave crashed into extreme noise rock proportions mid-set with songs like “Revival” and “Don’t Cry,” the finally ended on the lengthy new track “Nothing Ever Happened” about a rather serious car crash Cox had not to long ago which seemed to be steeply constructing into some expansive progressive rock composition with an intense 15 minute run time that even had time for a bit of Patti Smith to be recited in there somewhere. Still, their encore felt like they picked right back up on the same formulaic jam for several more songs, and went into many of their most popular tracks, like a jammed-out version of “Agraphobia,” an aggressively recounted version of “Helicopter,” and finally ending the show with that swooning bass beat of “Fluorescent Grey.” In the end, I had to admit that I couldn’t imagine a better band to spend a night spacing out to.
Article: Dean Keim