Initially scheduled as part of the free Pool Parties series at
After an opening act, the three headliners performed "round robin" style. For the uninitiated, this uniquely Baltimorian style of performance involves all acts performing on stage at once, switching after every song. It is certainly more egalitarian than the traditional mode of performance (a boon to the musicians), while the format inherently lends itself to a more varied type of show -- one where inter-band collusions are very common. In a highlight of the evening, Dan Deacon spontaneously dueted with Deerhunter's Bradford Cox (a truly genial soul who thanked audience members while waiting in the very long queue).
Lacking much of the usual histrionics, the Deacon songs were by far the weakest of the evening. On his last tour, the rotund Baltimorean was joined by an ensemble of live musicians who added a new level of panache to his frantic compositions. The Brooklyn Bowl set, on the contrary, skewed heavily towards note-by-note recreations of material from his latest album (Bromst); without the net of the backing band, Deacon was forced to attend to his array of clangorous machines instead of indulging in the crowd dancing that he prefers. No Age also yielded towards their album in their pro forma set, but the throng of dancers towards the front of the stage reminded skeptics that there is still room for odd gesticulations at rock and roll shows. Thank heavens.
It was Deerhunter that stole the show for me. Since seeing them well over a year ago, the permanently emaciated Cox (like Joey Ramone and Michael Phelps, he suffers from Marfan syndrome) has matured into a Morrisonian frontman, controlling the audience with a gravitas not seen all that often among today's diffident musicians. While Microcastle and Cryptograms were good albums, hearing those songs in their live iterations only reinforced their preeminence. Truly captivating stuff.
As the show concluded with a Dan Deacon light show and a two-way drone jam between No Age and Deerhunter, I smiled. It certainly wasn't the best show of the year, but all three acts had beat the odds with grace.