This is about Dan Deacon. But, first, you have to meet my friend Sam Ward.
- used terms like “sustainable” before concerned and emaciated Emo kids were here to save us from ourselves;
- crafts objects from wood — like complete drum kits;
- responsible for any mixtapes I own from 1988 featuring both Slayer AND Laurie Anderson;
- grandson of heavily quoted American writer William Arthur Ward;
- has dated Virgos almost exclusively for over twenty years.
Ok, now I can begin.
A couple of weeks ago, I woke up my quirky, drummer pal, Sam, with important news: “Hey.”
[clunk, clunk, clunk] “hey.” (Nothing in Sam’s life includes capital letters or exclamation marks or urgency.)
“Something is happening at The Modern Art Museum next week. You probably have to go.”
silence. Sam detests large museums because “they never hang art by regular people.” I love the irony of this because Sam and The Modern have pieces of art by the same artists.
“okay. what’s happening?”
“Dan Deacon is playing there after hours. Russell will be out-of-town with some band, and I really want you to go with me because you’ll dig it, plus I don’t want to see it by myself because [running out of air] that’d be like witnessing a UFO alone even though I’ll have my camera — it’s just not the same. Have you heard any of the Dan Deacon stuff?”
“no. what’s it like?”
I scrambled for a relevant descriptive that might pull Sam out of his cave.
pause. “the cool flaming lips?”
“i opened up for tortoise once.”
He was gonna do it. I could tell.
“it’s at the modern?”
“Yeah. It’ll be real…percussive.”
“okay. if i’m not in austin. fun, yeah.” The part about Austin was unnecessary as it’s always an implied stipulation with Sam: Austin first, puppet show last. The end.
So Dan Deacon is an electronic music nerd from Baltimore. This is a compliment. Right now, with backing help from fellow Maryland musicians Teeth Mountain, he’s touring the sort of show you’d pay to see twice — on consecutive nights, even.
Within the span of one hour, Dan Deacon and TM managed to turn the west lawn of The Modern into an unexpected abyss of unity for the complete gamut of total strangers. It was like being in a cult for people who hate cults. Except for a few nanoseconds here and there, Dan played the entire show enveloped by the crowd while Teeth Mountain, wearing Dharma Initiative-esque jumpsuits, plowed through the set on a stage rigged with epilepsy-inducing lights. Dan might be the best new-music Jesus I’ve seen in forever, dividing the fans as well as the haphazard, gallery stragglers into groups, who eagerly ran relay races and formed human tunnels. My face hurt from laughing so hard.
With people I’d never met before.
Out of joy. Real, total, absolute joy. I know “joy” is silly, but, man, that is the right word for it.
(At about 5:20 or so I get dragged into the relay, cackling like a friggin’ loon.)
The whole sixty minutes was as close as I’ll ever get to being a cast member of “The Electric Company”. Sam pointed out: “yeah, russell is going to wonder what the hell he missed when he sees the pictures you took.”
“It’s like Crash Worship without the red and blue-painted naked people.”
“minus the danger.”
“yeah, i’m real glad i came, k.”
Good, Sam liked it. That meant Dan and his TM orchestra weren’t pretentious. They were tight enough not to bug Sam’s pissy ears.
Two hours later, I sat on my sofa and watched the video directly from my camera. I couldn’t even wait a few minutes to upload the movie files to my laptop, so I just sat there holding the tiny viewfinder up to my eyeballs. And I laughed all over again.
When Bella got home the next afternoon from her overnight visit with Nana, I threw the laptop in front of her. She watched the footage — all of it — with the biggest grin on her eleven-year-old face.
“Mom, I want you to take me next time, ok?”
I promised I would.
When we got to the part of the video where I was dragged into the relay race, Bella keeled over in a fit, “PROMISE you will take me. Promise!”
“I promise. I promise I’ll take you the next time Dan Deacon plays nearby.”
“And can I do the part with the relay race, Mom?”
So attend. Drag your wooden drum-making, curmudgeon-y friends. Take your kid. Kidnap your mother! Catch Dan Deacon while you can.