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Preview Tue Nov 06 2012
Dan Deacon and I had a whirlwind relationship. Two years ago, I'd never heard of the guy. Now I have his phone number. That's not to say we're friends, or that Deacon has my number — he doesn't, I don't think — but in a very short time, I went from not recognizing the guy on the street, despite the balding baby-face he keeps hidden behind that red half-moon beard and those huge hipster glasses, to asking him how much money he still owes SUNY Purchase. (The answer: "Some.")
Deacon, who's based in Baltimore, Maryland, and is part of the Wham City collective, comes to Lincoln Hall tomorrow night, bringing with him far more than the sole laptop and effects rig he toured with from 2004 to 2009, which is the year Bromst came out. Which is when things got interesting.
A trombone player during his formative years, Deacon began toying with electronics in college, at the State University of New York in Purchase. Over the past eight years, he's become known for a playfully irreverent, largely instrumental electronic sound filled with sine waves and danceable drum beats, chopped-up samples from cartoons, and, lately, a lot of horns. It's more experimental — and a lot of faster — than the ilk of pop radio, but it still makes you move. Which is why Deacon also became known for his live shows, which were full of audience participation, and not the optional kind.
The first thing anyone told me about Deacon was that he hosted dance-offs at his shows, the primary instruction of which was, "Be sassy as fuck." Deacon, who isn't even five years older than me, has become a goofy god for thousands of fans, many of them teenagers who idolized his contemptuous attitude toward mainstream American culture and so teemed to his shows to indulge their inner sassiness.
But the Deacon who drew boobs on a map of the United States for the cover of Live Recordings 2003 grew up, his musical adulthood marked by Bromst, the 2009 album that included far more than electronics and far more promise. Things were more orchestral, and Deacon added an entire array of acoustic instruments. Bromst was, and still is an incredible record, a notable step forward into more 'serious' music without losing any of its original whimsy, or danceability.
Then came America. A dense album with a loaded title for an election year. "When I was writing Bromst, I wanted a title with no pre-existing meaning, something free of any prior associations. For this album, I wanted the exact opposite," Deacon wrote in a statement that overtook his official website this past August. "To me, the underground DIY and wilderness are just as American as their evil brethren, corporatism and environmental destruction. It's that juxtaposition of fundamentally opposed ideologies that makes up the American landscape."
Read today, on the day millions of Chicagoans — if we're lucky — make their ways to the polls, Deacon's statement resonates far too well. Tonight many of us will sit in our living rooms, the living rooms of friends, or on a stool at the neighborhood bar to watch the clash of those ideologies. Unless mechanical or human error prevents it, when Deacon takes the stage tomorrow night, our next president will have been chosen, and whether your candidate wins or loses, or we're mired in an electoral limbo, there will be no better place to celebrate America as it is — breathtaking and broken — than on the main floor of Lincoln Hall, letting bygones be bygones and getting real serious about how to dance "sassy as fuck."
The details: Dan Deacon brings his seriously sassy electro-acoustic ensemble to Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave., Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 9pm. The show is 18+ and tickets are $15. Height with Friends, Chester Endersby Gwazda, and Alan Resnick open.