Deerhunter: Casting A Spell Of Dark Magic At The Phoenix

By: Hilary Johnston September 16th, 2013


I arrived early to the sold out Deerhunter show accurately expecting a long lineup of diehards. Before positioning myself close to the stage, I was met by a hoard of beaming, wide-eyed high schoolers, our age gap made painfully apparent by my insisting “You really should have brought earplugs.” 

A hypnotic cloud darkened the Phoenix when frontman Bradford Cox took the stage, opening with “Earthquake” from Halcyon Digest. Cox’s style is intensely enigmatic, yet fashionable and charming; his deranged scarecrow demeanor visually complimenting the bizarre auditory spectacle he and his bandmates create. His eccentric genius anchors the rest of the members, whose stage manners are more understated, letting the music (and Cox) remain front and centre. Opener Marnie Stern brought an Almost Famous vibe to the show, bursting back on stage during Cryptograms’ “Hazel St” to whirl around uncontrollably. Although I found her opening act to be, well, lacking, I have to question my own opinion given Cox’s overt affection for her. In the best way possible, the performance turned Deerhunter’s songs’ most subtle layers into blaring sirens.


The sound was thick and ambient with a strong beat and a rock and roll edge that you can feel buzzing in the back of your throat. Only occasionally did they allow for a moment of repose in the vehemently slow, loud build-up that reached its climax at “Nothing Ever Happened”. The set ended with a version of “Monomania” that blasted a gust of punk wind at the crowd before returning for an encore of a jammed-out rendition of Fluorescent Grey. I left, feet numb and brain scrambled, wondering how long it will take the youngsters ears to stop ringing. 





Photos by @MylesHerod



Be sure to follow Toronto Music Scene on Twitter @TorontoMusic and Hilary Johnston @hilary_johnston

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