Most readers probably know that I am a pretty big fan of Animal Collective. They are basically my favorite active band, and if I had ever gotten around to doing that "Bands of the Decade" feature I promised, they surely would have been the first installment. So when I found out that Josh "Deacon/Deakin/Deaken" Dibb, the Animal Collective guitarist who has been "taking a break" from the band for the last two years, would be playing his first ever solo show New Year's Day in Baltimore, I decided to grab a few pals to accompany me to Ravenstown!
PRETENSION AND PERK'S B'MORE ADVENTURE
My girl friend and my regular friend and I are all in the above photograph. I promise you, none of us is the one who looks like he is shushing Deacon. But I am getting ahead of myself. REWIND TWO AND A HALF HOURS.
Standing outside the venue, we mused about how it would be quite humorous if someone had come to the venue believing that popular electronic musician Daniel Deacon would be playing rather than the similarly named Animal Collective guitarist. It was not an impossibility: both Deacons are from Baltimore, and Daniel was indeed scheduled to play at the very same venue in the coming weeks.
Then, while the first opener (Moss of Aura) was starting up his second song, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a rotund, bearded poncho approaching. But this was no ordinary rotund poncho with a beard... it was Dan Deacon with a beard wearing a poncho! LITTLE HAD WE KNOWN, WE WOULD SEE DANIEL DEACON AT THE VERY SHOW THAT WE HAD JOKED ABOUT SOMEONE MISTAKENLY ATTENDING UNDER THE PRETENSE THAT THEY WOULD SEE DAN DEACON. It turns out our hypothetical misinformed person might have very well seen Daniel Deacon, albeit not as a performer.
Zomes, the next guy, was pretty boring and we did not see any Mob Town celebs during the set. A lose all around.
Now we arrive at the highlight of the evening: Daniel Higgs, shown below.
Mr. Higgs played just two songs. But his 40 minute performance was the most surreal concert experience I have had in a while. To give you a vague idea of what to expect (and to ease you into the heavier stuff): his set up consists only of (a) a mysterious music box that he rhythmically opens and closes, (b) his warbling bray and (c) some bells strapped to his stompin' boots.
Higgs kicked off his set with a 25-minute hookless and rambling tune, the lyrics of which he read from a book--which I must assume was bestowed unto him by the gods of freaking the fuck out of people--that laid at his feet. About halfway through he invited the audience to let out whatever sounds they happened to be feeling at that moment. We were all happy to (and perhaps nervous not to) oblige, immediately creating a cacophony of whoops, screeches, and various other noises that can probably be heard somewhere on Sung Tongs.
What followed, though, easily surpassed any yelping session I have ever been a part of. After concluding "There is a Root" (a title I am granting his opening saga because they are the only words I remember from the tune, and I believe the only four consecutive words he ever repeated throughout its entire 25 minutes), Higgs unleashed a much more direct and, I daresay, accessible song. Though it still ran about 12 minutes, the song had a distinct hook, repeated at least 10 times, which I will bless the reader with the pleasure of seeing:
"Stand atop the Bible until your tears run dry, it's Holy Bible time, Holy Bible time."
The verses, meanwhile, offered suggestions on what activities to undertake with your personal Bible, which included but were not limited to "cherish the Bible", "burn the Bible", and "ignore the Bible." It was probably the most profound religious experience I've had in a good three years.
Oh and Deaks was good too. Not much going on melodically but a lot of cool sounds went down, especially guitarwise. A bit shoegazey, but still pretty Animal Collectivey. And he likes to twirl around when he plays guitar, which was refreshing after the first three fellows sat throughout 100% of their sets.
OVERALL B'MORE B'SCORE
John Waters sightings: 0
Number of Ravens fans who trashed/stole my car because it has a Steelers-themed spare tire cover: 0
15 minute songs about the Bible: 1
Verdict: I would consider going there Balti-more often :D
PS thanks to whoever chrissy abbott is for all the pictures I stole
PPS thanks to Wikipedia for telling me what some nicknames for Baltimore are