Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dan Deacon @ the Echoplex


I never finished my post about my first Dan Deacon show in 2007 because I could not competently articulate how the performance affected me. There were certainly plenty of lush details to work with -- the "cheap-sounding, rainbow-hued, breakcore-tempo electronic noise," the Dayglo green skull, the zealous crowd obeying Deacon's orders to run around in circles high-fiving each other and then dash through a human tunnel of joined hands -- but I couldn't draw all of these delicious ingredients together into a Meal. As I began writing about it, I kept defaulting to Carrie's observation that "this is what people from the 80s thought 2007 would be like," and while this is a profound and valid assessment, I felt cheap citing another's interpretation while my own eluded me. So I didn't post.

But now that I've seen him again for the second time, I think I've got it.

It came to me while I was tying my shoe. His set had begun and I was dancing; dancing like I hadn't danced since 2001, and the onslaught of footwork had undone the bow on my ballet flat. I bent down to tie it and the gentleman behind me asked, "are you okay?" To which I replied, "yeah, man, I'm just tying my shoe." His question surprised me -- why wouldn't I be okay? Then, it occured to me: this was a raver asking another raver, presumably under the influence of and overwhelmed by substances, if she was going to be okay; a kind and prevalent gesture I had witnessed during my days in the rave community, a gesture I now implicitly (though not immediately) understood on account of our shared identity and communal knowledge. Though he was barely-legal scruffster in striped neon and I was a 25 yr old admin. assistant in my work clothes, I was On the Same Page with this person because there were shared experiences among us.

And this, I would say, is the best thing about a Deacon show: in a post-PLUR world, it provides a space for all ravers-at-heart to come together and share the liberating experience of dance. Regardless of who each individual audience member is/was/is going to be, the frantic beats and childlike play of the Deacon experience induces a communal Fun capable of fusing each distinct member of the audience together into one blissful organism for the duration of the set. This was rave at its best in the 90's; this is rave at its best now. And I will conclude with another astute observation from Gillogs:

"I was trying to think of the difference between raves in the late 90s and last night. I decided: shirt size."

And to that I would add, pant-leg width.