Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Dan Deacon highlights Pearl Street

By Michael Walsh

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When Dan Deacon invades the Pearl Street Night Club in Northampton tonight, the stage will be empty.

Audience members will find the 28-year-old Deacon out amongst his people, clutching his synthesizer set-up, white knuckled, as he whips the crowd to a near psychotic frenzy.

Despite having two critically acclaimed albums under his belt, it is the live setting where Deacon thrives. With his gear set up on the floor, Deacon is free to move throughout the audience, never shy to bark out orders, instructing strangers to hold hands, craft impromptu dance circles and chant along with lyrics. If one didn’t know any better, he or she might think they’ve wandered in on an over-caffeinated group of second graders participating in gym class.

Marked by hectic beeps and boops accompanied by pitched up vocals, instruction may not be necessary to get you grooving along to Deacon’s music. There is an upbeat charm to his productions that can garner a feel-good tag, a label not commonly associated with electronic music.

Deacon is currently entering the home stretch of a 35-date fall tour that has gone from the east to west coast and back again, and is delighted with how it has gone thus far.

“We have a really good crew of folks out with us,” says Deacon, specifically referencing opening act Nuclear Power Pants, who has completed Deacon’s entire tour, including tonight’s Pearl Street show. “We have been playing smaller venues this tour and it has allowed me to try out some new material.”

Although it is solely Deacon’s name adorning the cover of his albums, he is never one to shy away from collaborations. Last December in Brooklyn N.Y., Deacon unveiled a 16-piece ensemble featuring nine percussionists, two guitarists and a number of keyboardists from peer acts. The group toured throughout the spring in support of “Bromst,” his most recent album.

This past summer, Deacon hit the road for a brief stint with Deerhunter and No Age, appropriately dubbed the No Deachunter tour. While at first glance the two lo-fi, guitar-driven acts might seem out of place sharing a bill with Deacon, they were able to link up through a common booking agent.

“The round robin tour was exciting because of the collaborations,” says Deacon of their approach to these shows where all three acts took the stage at the same time, interlocking sets and assisting one another on many staples.

Deacon calls Baltimore, Md. home and speaks endearingly of the city, despite being well aware of the general perception the city earns from outsiders.

“It is an under-populated city, marked by urban decay and greed at the same time. It’s often skipped over by touring acts that pass from Washington to New York and Philadelphia,” says Deacon. “The isolation brings groups of people together and creates a bond.”

Deacon’s work “Wham City” is made up of a collection of artists based in the city, and has played a large part in crafting Deacon’s current image. Fellow Wham City affiliate and filmmaker Jimmy Joe Roche and Deacon met at Purchase College where they were roommates and have since collaborated on numerous occasions. Roche is partly responsible for Deacon’s introduction to his non-Baltimore fan base as he directed the video for Deacon’s song “Crystal Cat,” which quickly ballooned to a million views on YouTube upon its release in 2007. The video can be likened to a mash-up of Deacon’s over-the-top live performance and a heavy acid trip. The closing track on Deacon’s breakthrough album, “Spiderman of the Rings,” bears Roche’s namesake.

Tickets for tonight’s Pearl Street performance will be available for $12 at the door. The show begins at 8:30 p.m. and opening acts include the aforementioned Nuclear Power Plants and local electronic musician Eric Hnatow.

Michael Walsh can be reached at [email protected]

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