Dan Deacon Goes Analog
A 15-person band gives Deacon’s legendary shows a new form
by Sara Brickner
Techno-hippie Dan Deacon owes the majority of his success not to the content of his albums, but to the electric nature of his live shows. A bespectacled, balding man who conducts his shows more like a camp counselor or a circus ringmaster than a DJ, Deacon splices together electronic compositions that have always seemed to serve as the backdrop to his solo live presence rather than the reason he goes on tour in the first place. Deacon himself doesn’t do much; it’s what he gets his audiences to do that’s so incredible. It’s probable that he is the only artist in the world capable of convincing an auditorium’s worth of unruly, half-drunk kids to hold an impromptu dance-off, let alone form a giant ovoid human arm tunnel under which a line of crouching kids wiggle in time to the music.
It all began when Deacon began setting up his equipment on the floor at shows — something he says he did as a fledgling artist to open up communication between himself and the audience. But on his most recent record, Bromst, he made some changes to his approach, both in the studio and as a performer. Bromst is the first Dan Deacon album on which Deacon enlisted other musicians to play acoustic instruments or contribute anything other than vocals. The 15-person band subsequently accompanied Deacon on tour, forcing him to renounce his floor performances and take the stage for the first time. Though it might sadden longtime Deacon fans, his reasoning made sense. With Bromst, Deacon strove to create a record of dance music infused with more meaning and depth — something that will stick with his audiences even after the endorphins and mind-altering substances have worn off. Bromst still doesn’t hold a candle to his live shows, but it’ll be interesting to see whether Deacon can continue creating more wholesome, cerebral recordings with analog instruments and human musicians — without sacrificing the group participation element that make his shows so special.
Dan Deacon, Nuclear Power Pants, Wallpaper. 8 pm Tuesday, Oct. 21. WOW Hall • $5.