A slightly subdued Deerhunter play tracks from Halcyon Digest at Manchester mini-fest, Strange Waves.
Strange Waves Festival on 26th May at the rather grand Albert Hall was a mini evening festival hosting Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Black Lips and Deerhunter at a fraction of the cost that seeing all three separately would set you back.
Black Lips were first up, a little late to the stage and even though it seemed the group had missed the soundcheck and some instruments were not plugged in, the shambolism just added to and then gave way to their insanely energetic charm. It seemed like quite a short set, but literally could not be sure of that - Black Lips have that magnetic effect when playing live that could transport even the most square dude into a hypnotic daze where time passes at an unknown speed.
The tension whilst waiting for Deerhunter in the Albert Hall zapped around the echoey space before they made their entrance. The crowd applauded and zoomed in on indie-rock superstar Brandon Cox as he swaggered toward his place on stage. With a new cassette-only release, Double Dream Of Spring
being sold at live shows only, Deerhunter have a set of EU dates this summer, but only a couple of shows in the UK, making this feel even more special.
Relying mostly on their most accessible and widely acclaimed album to date, the universally recognised gem of Halcyon Digest
for the set, the group whizzed through a brilliant 45-minutes which also saw some of their new material being tried out live. There was only one track from the glorious Fading Frontier, none from Monomania or Cryptograms - the group seemed most animated and excited whilst playing their newest material.
Brandon Cox lolled around on stage whilst opening the set with 'Cover Me (Slowly)' and 'Agoraphobia', with the mega-pleased crowd whistling and clapping thunderously. The band then blistered through more tracks, some brand new, with Brandon continuing to loll around and even yawn a couple of times, getting electric shocks from his mic. 'Desire Lines' was played with mega-wattage energy, the audience powered up at the opening guitar lines to it.
It felt strange that Deerhunter were not, in fact, headlining the evening, and watching them as an opener for Unknown Mortal Orchestra was kind of odd. It may have affected how they played, maybe they were conscious of being an opener because, noticeably for Deerhunter, the band were slightly subdued and Brandon seemed to be suffering from some kind of fatigue. Regardless of this, watching Deerhunter live just feels super special, even though this performance felt like a warm-up for the group for the upcoming EU tour.