A Deerhoof song generally tends not to follow a straightforward, linear curve. They crash to halts almost as soon as beginning, before picking themselves up and careering off in other, suddenly more exciting directions. Then they bolt off somewhere new and elsewhere entirely. Twin guitars springboard around each other in full atonal axe mode, while the drummer seems to be on the verge of constantly exploding at his kit.
They sound, it seems fair to say, a bit prog-y. Like a cool, post-punk take on King Crimson, with just the faintest whiff of Beefheart and Zappa. This brief Edinburgh appearance, days before their weekend stint at All Tomorrow’s Parties annual Christmas Nightmare, has The Bongo Club crammed to the gills. To such an extent that, from a vantage point at the rear of the venue, it is almost impossible to see certain members of the San Francisco quartet on stage.
This particularly applies to the ultra diminutive figure of chief vocalist and bassist, Satomi Matsuzaki. Unless you’re one of the lucky few down the front, little more than Matsuzaki’s black bob can be seen. Happily, her vocal extemporisations more than make her presence known. She emits childlike squawks and yelps, sometimes becoming cooingly sweet as on the almost pop-like “The Perfect Me” from 2007’s Friend Opportunity album.
Founder member and drummer Greg Saunier mentions how nervous they are as they haven’t played live for a couple of months. It’s hard to believe it wasn’t as recently as last night, so capably do they interact and spark off each other while playing such demanding music. But tonight is a brief engagement. After a mere fifty minutes, they troop off before a rabidly demanding audience coaxes them back on for a raggedy Canned Heat cover and Matsuzaki gleefully dancing over the monitors front of stage, swigging beer and coaxing us to party on after they have long gone.