Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dan Deacon-Underground Look at America

Dan Deacon, the electronic musician, is on stage getting ready to perform the most amazing technological musical experience I have ever seen. As the audience came in for the show, earlier in the evening, he asked that everybody who owned a smart phone to download the Dan Deacon app. Dan is well known for his interaction with his audiences, so most everyone did what he asked. They wanted to be part of his experience (in the 60's we called them happenings). At a particular song he asked everyone to open the app. They did. All of a sudden all the phones started changing colors. Then a strobe light came through the phones. All of the stage and house lights went out and Dan launched into a song. Everyone held up their phones and the phones became the light show. Colors changed and strobes went off all to the beat of the song. It was a truly amazing experience. Welcome to Dan Deacon's world.

Dan grew up on Long Island N.Y. and studied music at the highly acclaimed Music Conservatory at SUNY-Purchase. He was interested in computer music composition and this was where he focused his study. He started performing his own composition during this time as well as playing with other bands like Langhorne Slim.  After he graduated he moved to Baltimore with others from college and started the Wham City Collective. This was an arts and music collective doing underground shows here in Baltimore. The collective got great reviews and press in the underground scene. They started touring the country and all of a sudden Baltimore got a great reputation for our music and art scene. Dan was behind a lot of this with his high energy shows, where audience participation and interaction are integral to how he sees music as being. At the show I worked his merch table, not only did I see the smart phone light show, but got the chance to watch lots of people just having a great time. I think it was the show that I saw the most amount of very sweaty people as they left the venue.

Dan writes experimental compositions and combines it with electronic music. His high energy live shows consists of two drummers, a keyboard and Dan’s combination of computer, keyboard, vocoder and a whole lot of other gadgets that process and manipulates his voice. Honestly the machine he performs with looks like a bomb from a 1950’s Hollywood B movie. It’s got wires all over the place. Despite all the weird look, I can tell you his music is not only fun but amazing. He has just released a brand new album America on the Domino Records label. It combines Dan Deacon sense of fun and his seriousness of music. I am in love with the final 22 minutes of a 4 part suite "America" number. As you listen he takes you across the landscape of our country. It is truly stunning for it combines his electronic composition and orchestration into one piece. This is his new single from America "True Thrush".This captures Dan's humor in a great and funny way.


All I can say is Dan is a serious musician who loves to have fun with his audience. He travels the world and the world travels with him. He learns from his experiences and puts them into his music. I can’t wait to see what he will do next. I also can’t thank him enough for all he has done to put the Baltimore music and arts scene on the map.