Deerhoof makes its long-awaited Valley return an indelible one

Welcome back: Deerhoof played the Lab back in ’97.
Photo: Spencer Burton

Three and a half stars

Deerhoof November 5, the Sayers Club.

In last week’s interview with Deerhoof’s John Dieterich, the guitarist told me the band had never played Vegas—except, possibly, before he joined the band in 1999. More than 15 years later, inside the Sayers Club on Thursday night, drummer Greg Saunier set the record straight about that performance, which most certainly did happen.

“I’m about to add to his and everyone’s pool of knowledge, by explaining that at some time in ’97, Deerhoof played in Henderson,” Saunier said, coming to the mic after the quartet finished opening number “Paradise Girls.” “I don’t remember the exact address, but it was someone’s living room.” Shouts of “the Lab!” erupted from the crowd—referring to the east-side house that also hosted bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and Modest Mouse in the late 1990s. To the band’s surprise, a few attendees on Thursday night might have actually been at that show. “It’s nevertheless somewhat surprising that nearly 20 years later, we are not in possession of cables that actually work,” Saunier continued, addressing apparent early technical difficulties.

Deerhoof at Brooklyn Bowl

Deerhoof at Brooklyn Bowl

Those mechanical mishaps aside, Deerhoof cruised its performance—17 songs soaked in loud noise and ferocious psychedelics. During “Doom,” singer/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki brought her bouncy stage presence to the forefront, dancing and high-kicking her way around the stage, all while singing and playing bass like she’s been doing this forever—and she basically has. Deerhoof is so technically sound, its experimental, explosive jam sessions seem to take lives of their own, and guitarists Ed Rodriguez and Dieterich played as though they were determined to knock the chandeliers right off the ceiling.

At one point, during “The Perfect Me,” I wondered if the band members were even playing the same song—only to have everyone land on the same note, completely in sync. As Matsuzaki hopped around onstage, her mousy, high-pitched voice danced atop every reverb-soaked chord, and Saunier’s manic drumming (see: banging the snare with his fists) drove each song into hysteria.

The encore was notably bizarre. During “Come See the Duck,” Matsuzaki walked into the crowd, instructing us to sing, “Come! Come! Come see the duck!” as a circle formed around her—a true breaking of the fourth wall. Leaving the show, I thought back to my interview with Dieterich, where I asked about the band’s longevity. While most musicians tend to run through sets as cleanly as possible, this band does things differently. It’s impossible to predict how a Deerhoof show might turn out, and that’s exactly what makes the group so good.

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Leslie Ventura is a staff writer at Las Vegas Weekly and Industry Weekly. She’s picked the brains of rock stars ...

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