It was a night to remember in Covington, Kentucky as Deerhunter and their posse of incredible openers, Jock Gang and Aldous Harding, came to the Madison Theater. It was the first stop on their lengthy tour so everyone was full of energy. Deerhunter was supporting their latest album, Fading Frontier, but don’t think that was the only album they performed during the show. Bradford Cox led a commanding set that spanned across their discography. Anchored by arguably their strongest album, Halcyon Digest, Cox and lead guitarist/songwriter Lockett Pundt traded off vocals with a few of their breakout songs, “Helicopter” and “Desire Lines.”
The majority of Deerhunter remained stoic throughout the entire show, despite being incredibly high-energy. That wasn’t the case for Bradford Cox, however. One of the first things he pointed out was, “Don’t be afraid to wiggle.” And he even checked in on some fans in the front row to make sure they were having a good time. It almost seems a bit uncharacteristic if you’re an art rock band in this day and age to express any sort of fun or light-hearted emotions during a live show would come off as superficial or cheesy, and thankfully Bradford Cox didn’t follow that caveat.
The one thing that makes Deerhunter so great is their ability to harness the unexpected. Not once did the show ever go off the rails but multiple times during the show they would either start or end their songs with an unsurpassable wall of noise and commotion led by Lockett Pundt’s incredible guitar. Just when you thought you couldn’t take it anymore, Bradford Cox would channel his inner-classical composer and orchestrate everyone back down to earth.
Cox may be the frontman of this band, but each member of Deerhunter has their own sort of individual prowess that made this show so enjoyable. The man on synthesizer would switch between his keyboards and the saxophone between songs. They had an extra man on percussion, who had an arsenal of different instruments he used during the show. I’m pretty sure not even one instrument was used more than once. If you are an avid Deerhunter fan, you would catch up on some of those instruments you might not have heard on their studio albums.
One last thing you have to commend Deerhunter on is their eye to pick out an incredible list of openers. There were two openers before Deerhunter took to the stage. The first band was Jock Gang. They hailed from Atlanta, Georgia- the same city where Deerhunter got their start. Jock Gang is a band you should be on the lookout for in the near future. They sound like they could be Deerhunter’s protégé. Many of their songs they performed would start out deconstructed and harsh, but as the song went on, these fantastic melodies would arise from the rubble.
The second opener was named, Aldous Harding. She is a solo artist hailing from New Zealand. She was a bit different than Deerhunter and Jock Gang, to say the least, but in the best of ways. For most of her songs, it was just her and a fingerpicking guitar. On occasion, she would bring out a keyboardist to add even more depth to what she could already accomplish solo. Her songs had an incredible amount of imagery to them. She was a great storyteller in the way she would emit her emotions both visually and vocally.
As a Deerhunter fanatic, it was hard to be let down by this. I came into this show expecting to be blown away. My expectations were shattered, not only by their unpredictability and Bradford Cox’s implausible amount of showmanship, but by their unique opening acts as well. Even by these standards, a music fan who has never heard of Deerhunter would leave this show very impressed. This show at Madison Theater just solidified why they are the one of the best indie rock bands in the world today.