Dan Deacon, Prince Rama, May 1, 2015 @ Echoplex

I’ve enjoyed Dan Deacon’s new album, Gliss Riffer, and was excited to see his was making his way out to LA this spring.  I’d seen him two other times and they were fun, intimate shows back in DC.  I wondered whether he would still set up his mass of electronics out on the floor among the crowd or play this set from the Echoplex’s stage.  But before that question could be answered, opener Prince Rama played.

I’ll admit I hadn’t heard of Prince Rama before yesterday afternoon.  I read a few things on them and they definitely seemed to fit into the weird category (their wikipedia page says two of their albums have been high on the New Age charts and they are described as “psych-dance”.  A few songs didn’t particularly change that impression; but at least the songs from their last album in 2012 seemed more on the “dance-y” side of “psych-dance”.  I didn’t take any pictures but here’s a representative sample of what I was seeing.  Lots of day-glo colors, big hair, totally 80s.  I remarked to my friend that I felt like I was at the high school dance in an 80s movie.  The songs were percussion-heavy, big, brash and much more conventional than I expected.  The 80s homage was heavy, but it worked for the most part.  The percussionist went out in the crowd during one song to dance (thank god for preprogramming), the lead singer crowd surfed, and the keyboardist seemed happy doing intermittent wide-eyed googling while dancing in place. It was silly and fun and actually a good complement to Deacon’s set.

20150502_070508464_iOSIt became evident that Dan Deacon would be on the stage, and when the curtain hiding his set up came down, there was still the table with his equipment, though it looked more tidy and there was no green skull. RIP green skull.  He had a series of colorful tapestries behind him, which would later come down and reveal a drum set as he was joined by a drummer and bass guitarist for part of his set.  Deacon’s sound has evolved from its messy and experimental beginnings, so it makes sense that his stage show would too.  But, when an artist has allowed you to be so close, to watch him set up his mess of equipment and be inches away while he performs as the fans go nuts and threaten to knock over all that equipment, a small something gets lost when that’s taken away if you’ve experienced it.

All that said, Deacon still connects and tries to involve his audience, even if he is on the stage.  He gave a shout out to a fan who’d brought, for some reason, a vinyl copy of a Steely Dan record; at one point he separated the crowd into two halves and had us follow the dance moves of two designated choreographers (which kinda worked even though most of us couldn’t see what those people were doing); gave a short speech about what’s happening in Baltimore (he lives in the city); had us all grab hands with the people next to us; and released balloons in the audience during one song and then tried to get people to all pop the balloons at once before starting his next piece.

20150502_074115475_iOSHe’s got a lot more material to draw from now and he played a good bit from the new Gliss Riffer, did several parts of his underrated USA suite from America, and two tracks from Bromst and two of my favorites, Wham City and The Crystal Cat, from Spiderman of the Rings.  Those last two songs, with the chipmunk-styled vocals and music that is just as frenetic, are fabulous live. The newer material, with big, bouncing beats did well in the live context.  The energy of the songs propelled the crowd throughout his over hour-long set; the light show (something I hadn’t experienced at his other shows) upped the party vibe and judging from the sweaty fans leaving afterwards, a good time was had by all.


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One Response to “Dan Deacon, Prince Rama, May 1, 2015 @ Echoplex”

  1. 2015 Year End Picks | Nothing to Write Home About Says:

    […] Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer.  Reining a little of the chirpy vocals of some of his earlier releases, but keeping his ability to create madcap beats, this album bounces and bobs its way through 8 tracks.  A master of the slow build, Sheathed Wings and When I Was Done Dying, will certainly have you dancing.  And if you have a chance to see him live, do it. […]

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