by Ziggy Merritt
First, to put everything out in the open, yes, shade was once again thrown at Billy Corgan, the subject of a widely circulated news story where Corgan was (once again) a, at best, huge jerk. Second, I won’t specify the details of said shade as Bradford Cox himself intimated that he would prefer the events of the evening to be shared among himself and the crowd rather than be subject to media fodder. The most I’ll share is that a certain Smashing Pumpkins track was embellished upon in great detail for a good ten minutes or so and words, not entirely inflammatory, were spoken.
I knew what I was getting into the moment I elected to review this show. Cox of Deerhunter and Atlas Sound -both projects of which performed last Sunday night to a sold-out audience at Union Transfer- has been no stranger to lengthy tangents and fittingly bizarre incidents. Take for example one occasion where a “fan” asked Cox to perform “My Sharona” only to have it turned into an unsettling hour long cover of the ’70s hit. But you don’t go to a Deerhunter show just for the antics. Over the better half of the 21st century Deerhunter and Cox’s side project, Atlas Sound have put out a healthy catalog of solid records ranging anywhere from garage rock of Monomania to the dreamy and experimental tracks off of Halcyon Digest and most recently Fading Frontier.
Tracks from all of these were performed starting off with “Desire Lines” from Halcyon Digest during the Deerhunter set and closing with an improvised though ultimately successful “Monomania” from the album of the same name. The latter consumed a good fifteen minutes of time considering Cox had admitted to not playing the song live for two years though was obligated to follow through with via request from a teen named Luke whom Cox had struck up a rapport with earlier in the show. Sure, it eventually became a bit frustrating, but after a seventy-five minute set and the most sonically pleasing rendition of “Nothing Ever Happened” ever performed, I felt it impossible to remain annoyed at Bradford.
Instead, with the exception of a few audio snafus, both sets that evening were memorable and engaging. Cox’s interactions between bandmates Moses Archuleta, Lockett Pundt, and Josh McKay were humorous and peppered with awkwardness though the same could be said of his occasional interactions with the crowd. At one point during the process of trying to remember the chords to “Monomania”, Cox lectured the audience on the value and philosophy behind a performance. This eventually culminated in him deleting an audio recording from an audience member’s smartphone, something which was handled amicably and without incident, but brought home the core meaning of his message: just enjoy the show.