This year the Huskies have beaten two top ten teams at home. The first time I was stuck in class on a Thursday night as we held off the Stanford Cardinals. The second, I was at a concert at Neptune Theater while the Huskies beat Oregon State. While I do feel a bit of disappointment that I missed both, I’ve come to the conclusion it is destiny. My New Jersey blood does not add to the positive mix in the stadium to will the team to pull off the upset.
Instead, I had my first, and definitely not my last, encounter with the Neptune Theater. The theater is located on 45th street, less than 2 blocks from school and only 2 blocks up form my apartment. The commute is extremely easy, something I’ve never had my entire life and it has often factored into me skipping shows. When you live so close to a venue, its much easier to go to a show you when you don’t really know the artist. It takes all of twenty minutes to walk up the street, see if they have cheap tickets, and then either go in or walk home. Though this wasn’t the case for my first concert there, I will be implementing that strategy going forward.
Earlier on in the day of the event, I decided I didn’t want to go to the Huskies game that I had tickets for. It was cold, rainy, the game was late, far, and we were probably going to get blown out (I was wrong). Instead, I bought a ticket to a show I had been contemplating for quite some time but never pulled the trigger. Early on in the day, I uttered those magical words that make parents ears bleed, “fuck it”, and bought the ticket. I was pretty psyched, even though I would be going to a concert alone. You might ask, “but Dan, doesn’t going to a concert alone bother you? Don’t you have any friends.” Well, two things. In my life, I have gone to many concerts and sporting events by myself. I used to work on a project that had me going to over 30 sporting events and concerts by myself to survey the arena’s concessions stands. At first you feel a bit weird, but overall it is still a good time and it has become something I have gotten used to. Also, the concert I was going to see, Dan Deacon, is a very…unique, act. Certainly not everyone’s cup of latte (its Seattle, tea just wouldn’t be fitting). I decided to not even try to find a friend to go in fear they would have a bad time.
Saturday day came and went. I spent my time watching football with some friends, doing some homework, and just relaxing. At about 8:45 I decided to throw on my costume, which was a ridiculous 80’s outfit my friend Sam and I bought at the Goodwill the night before, and head up to the theater. The show started at 9, and even though I didn’t know the opening acts, I had nothing better to do. I walk up to no line, grab my ticket, which was at will call, and headed in. The Theater is medium sized, which is quite small compared to what I was used to in New York. I headed to the bar in the back because there were a total of 30 people in the venue at this time, what else was I to do. I grabbed a beer on tap and sat down for the show to start. Unfortunately I had to resort to my iPhone camera.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP
The first act was Alan Resnick. Never in my life have I seen anything like this as an opening act. I don’t even know what to call it. Is it comedy? Is it art? He got out on stage with a headset microphone and a salesman like tone. He passes off very well as one of those guys trying to sell a self-help book or weight-loss program. With some humor mixed in, he goes on to explain the importance of creating a “digital copy” of oneself by creating an avatar. After about twenty minutes of humorously uncomfortable dialogue, visual examples, and a conversation with an avatar, Resnick walked off the stage. As I went to the bathroom I heard people muttering how bad he was, though I found it funny and a change of pace. I’m not really sure what he actually does, but I do know he is part of the Wham City collective, which is the Dan Deacon crew down in Baltimore. His website leads on he’s a visual artist but doesn’t stray from the avatar story. His website is a good example of what went on at the concert, weirdness mixed in with some humor. Overall, I give this guy respect. For what exactly, I have yet to figure out.
Two more acts came and went, both musical this time. The first was a two-piece band that used a recording to supplement the other instruments and I felt like the guitar player was faking the entire time, though I found the music enjoyable. Next was a 47-year-old hip-hop artist named Height, who had some friends. They were called “Height with friends”. Can’t say I really enjoyed this much, but Deacon recalled that Height is the reason he moved to Baltimore and started touring, so I got to show the guy some love for influencing an artist I enjoy.
At a bit after 10:30, Dan Deacon walked on stage with 2 drummers and a keyboardist/bassist, all flaunting green wigs and KISS face paint. He started with a 5 minute long discussion with the crowd, which had grown enough to fill up the entire bottom level with some stragglers sitting up in the balcony. I’d estimate the crowd to be between 300-500 people, though it was hard to judge. After the talk, Deacon and his ensemble got into playing the music that is hard to classify. Deacon is an experimental electronic composer using sounds and noises you likely did not know existed. WHOA, STOP! This isn’t dubstep, this is music, don’t get the wrong idea. But if anyone knows what the hell is going on, they are probably lying to you. Dan Deacon uses a crazy rig for his keyboard set up that has more knobs than keys. During the live show, Deacon did not play an instrument, he used his voice and effects to create sounds while the two drummers and keyboard laid the background. The music is strange, but melodic. Soothing, yet edgy. It is the type of music you can all but guarantee parents will find shitty, but the man deserves some respect, at least in the hipster nation. Not to mention he looks like a person who should never own a white van, or offer candy. But frankly, it all works.
The live show at a Dan Deacon concert is interesting. The music is loud and the notes blend together more than on his albums, creating this one, epic piece of loud music. While the tunes are great, the participation of the crowd is something I had never seen before. After each song, Deacon talks to the crowd with specific instructions of what to do during the next song. One had the entire crowd split in two doing a follow the leader dance. The next had a giant circle with people running in the middle giving high fives. The kicker was the growing tunnel. Starting with 2 people forming a tunnel with their arms in the air, the entire crowd went through the tunnel one by one, adding to the tunnel with a partner once reaching the end. This didn’t just wrap around the dance floor though, it extended out into the street, around the block, and back into the theater. During my turn, I ran through the tunnel form the dance floor and finally reaching the end right at the corner of the block. At one point, the band was left inside, playing to an empty venue. Never had I been at a concert with this type of event, nor could I imagine a venue being cool enough to let that happen. Major props to Neptune for that.
Deacon continued to play his eclectic songs from his new album and some from older albums. Near the end of the show, he asked the audience to take out their smartphones and open up the Dan Deacon App. This blew my mind. We have talked about second-screen in class and how we are using smartphones more, but this has taken it to another level. By downloading the application, your phone becomes the light show. Deacon explained how they would turn off all the lights in the room while our phones will take the places of the lights. By picking up the sounds through the microphone, the screens of our phones changed different colors in sync with music. It might have worked better with a packed house of 3,000, but it was still awesome and unique. It will be interesting to see if this type of mobile use catches on with other musicians, but it is a great idea with tons of room for expansion and new ideas. Unfortunately the video and images I captured of this do not do a good job of depicting how awesome it really was.
Overall, my experience at the show was great. The venue is nice, close, quaint, and they pull in acts that are enjoyable and often affordable. I will definitely be back. As for the music, Dan Deacon put on a great show and I would recommend him to anyone looking for a good concert, though I would firmly suggest listening to his music before going to make sure you can handle 2 hours of it. It is not for everyone.