Concert Review: Lightning Bolt, Dan Deacon, October 12, The Great Hall

Toronto – I would not hesitate to call this an epic show.  I don’t mean that in the sense that people do nowadays when they overuse that term, as in “I had an epic hamburger for lunch” or something like that.  I mean that each song performed by both Dan Deacon and Lightning Bolt actually felt like an epic being performed before my eyes. 

The same could not be said for openers John Milner You’re So Boss, whose entire set was probably only 10 – 15 minutes long and seemed to feature about as many songs within those minutes.  The Toronto foursome played a brand of artsy, grindcore influenced noise rock with electronic elements.  I’ve seen this sort of thing before (they reminded me a bit of AIDS Wolf or The Sick Lipstick) and while I used to be a big fan of stuff like this (and still do enjoy it from time to time), I’ve got to say I wasn’t that into it.  That said, I did like what they were doing and the band was obviously having a lot of fun playing.  Also, kudos to them for having only cassettes available at the merch table.

Next up was Dan Deacon.  I was operating under the mistaken assumption that he would be closing the show, but I guess he deferred to Lightning Bolt.  After The Dan Deacon Ensemble took the stage, it took a few minutes before they were all set to go, but when they did, they really got going.  Featuring three drummers, a couple of electronic xylophone type things and a few other players (I think there were about 8 or 9 members onstage), they had a big sound and a relentless energy level.  Before they began their set, he thought that he and the band should attempt an a capella version of their opening number just because the acoustics in The Great Hall would allow that.  When that didn’t work, they started over again, this time with instruments.  This is when I realized that Dan Deacon is all about the fun.  Acting as a sort of ringmaster, he led his ensemble through several tunes, all the while operating some lights from onstage, gesticulating toward the crowd and basically encouraging everyone there to have a good time (Not that we needed much encouragement).  After a couple songs, he ordered the crowd to clear a space on the dance floor so that a dance contest could take place.  He then chose some people with weird masks on to start it off.  (Did they bring their own costumes to the concert or were they part of Deacon’s crew?  I’m assuming the latter as bringing your own costumes to a show seems like a bit too much work)  Shortly after that, the idea of this being a dance contest sort of disappeared as more people took to the dance floor again.  I guess they weren’t feeling terribly competitive.  Dan Deacon dedicated “Wham City,” the last song of his set,  to tour-mates Lightning Bolt, mentioning their influence over a lot of underground music from the last several years. 

His kind words were not quite reciprocated by Lightning Bolt.  After another long set up between bands, drummer Brian Chippendale (who insisted that all his drums needed mics … yup, these guys were loud.  Why do I always forget to bring earplugs?) said, “Dan Deacon is not a nice man.  I know him better than you.  You may think he’s giving you energy, but he’s actually stealing your energy.  He puts it in his pocket, then runs it through a computer program and makes music with it.”  They had the same relentless energy as Dan Deacon before them and despite being only two guys, they easily made as much noise as The Dan Deacon Ensemble, if not more.  They’re part of a long history of incredibly loud two piece bands including Lullabye Arkestra, Japandroids, and the mighty godheadSilo.  godheadSilo is probably the band they resemble the most, with their sludgy riffs, manic vocals and persistent drums.  I’m not overly familiar with their songs, but from the way they were playing (and based on the fact that Chippendale said to bassist Brian Gibson, “That sounded like Black Sabbath” at the end of one song, indicating surprise), I’d imagine that the songs are partially improvised.  If they hadn’t already impressed me, they definitely would have won me over at the end of their set when Chippendale announced that the next day was new comic book day.  He wondered aloud if there were any Canadian superheroes, then answered his own question by naming all the members of Alpha Flight.  His knowledge of comic book trivia was commendable, but perhaps to be expected from a guy who wears a mask onstage.  Nevertheless, this was definitely a memorable show.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts

2 Responses to Concert Review: Lightning Bolt, Dan Deacon, October 12, The Great Hall

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  2. Brynocki C

    Lightning Bolt and Dan Deacon+band are great friends. There was some joking going on there that night.

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