The modest honour exhibited by a solid-sounding support band is a long reliable harbinger of a great show to come. The Marble Factory tonight is no exception. Cowtown take to the stage to showcase their tightly skewed sound. Their songs have a definite urgency to them, although they later joke that their nerves are speeding up their songs four times over. An air of fear, delight and eventually victory vaporises around them – an unsurprisingly confused cocktail considering the magnificent spectacle to follow them: Deerhoof.
As they first hit upon our senses, the sheer love of the crowd for tonight’s main act becomes immediately apparent. Across the front of the stage, they adopt almost a line formation as if to portray upfront the elements forming Deerhoof – each band member takes their songs to manipulate out different shapes but, without exception, they all tessellate perfectly.
They begin their set with ‘Exit Only’ and ‘Paradise Girls’ from their latest release, La Isla Bonita. Satomi Matsuzaki’s deliverance of these songs grasps us with its deconstructedness – her style seems at first disarmingly uncluttered but it is consistently impressive and exercises an odd complexity.
Something almost geometrical emerges from their sound. While their songs feed off an enigmatic genius, there remains something of an abstract structure to crafting something that is so satisfying, we are putty in their hands. The shapes into which we mould are nothing compared to Matsuzaki’s superlative dance moves, which correspond so as to be surely written into the songs themselves.
So overwhelmingly brilliant is this set that we are owed something of an interlude and, yet again, they deliver as drummer Greg Saunier takes to Matsuzaki’s mic:
“Each night I stand up and start striding toward the microphone. I hear Ed start to giggle in my ear as I’m passing by. And today in Bristol on, whatever day it currently is… Feb Two Three, it’s the first time that I’ve ever worked up the courage to face Ed and say “Ed, what is so funny?” and at last I’ve discovered either the truth, or what he’s telling me to spare my feelings, which is Everything. Everything is funny. Whether he meant it or not suddenly I found a quiet moment inside my own mental experience that I agree 100%.”
This monologue is delivered with such perfect timing and artistry however that really there is no let-up on that overwhelming brilliance. We are simply more infatuated and ever more eager for whatever it is they decide to next subject us to.
Whether it’s the contortions of a demonic birdsong preluding ‘Bad Kids to the Front’ or the eagerly anticipated encore – inspiration for another comedic insight into Saunier’s mind [see appendix] – of ‘There’s That Grin’ and ‘Come See the Duck’, we are all honoured to bear witness to – and in the final case, participate in – an encapsulating performance so supreme.
Appendix: “It may appear as though we were stalling, just seeing the maximum width to which our heads could expand. In fact, 99% of the time we were gone we were just trying to figure out how to get the curtain back open – it’s Velcro-ed very tight.”