There is no doubt that music fans in St. Louis appreciate the unconventional. When it comes to innovation, Deerhoof is one of those bands that stand out above the rest. While their popularity has increased tremendously over the last ten years, they have still managed to ride under the radar as one of the best experimental bands around. When they recently stopped through The Ready Room here in St. Louis, it was the last full night of the tour. Deerhoof has been travelling the country with Lily and Horn Horse, as well as Christina Schneider’s Genius Grant whose final stop was here in town.
Lily and Horn Horse were the first act to go on, and they definitely loosened up the crowd. The duo is made up of Lily Konigsberg and Matt Norman a.k.a. Horn Horse. The duo has been collaborating since 2016 and met at Bard College near Red Hook, New York. Lily functions as the lead singer for the group, dancing around as she sings over prerecorded beats. She also performs with the band Palberta, a punk trio with a much harsher sound. For Lily and Horn Horse, their music is dreamy and experimental with a proper dose of discord. The tracks typically run for a little over a minute, and are high intensity experiments in sound.
Horn Horse meanders around the stage as he plays, sometimes wandering out into the crowd to play alongside the fans. We definitely understand why Deerhoof has brought the band along on tour, with the vibe of Lily and Horn Horse often mimicking some of the earlier Deerhoof tracks. It’s nice to see an experimental band with clout bringing along lesser known and newer artists for people to become exposed to.
Next up was Christina Schneider’s Genius Grant, who ended their tour with Deerhoof here in St. Louis. Christina is the mastermind behind the group due to her writing, arranging, and performing all of the music. Her sheer dress with embroidered flowers, long flowing hair, and bright blue glitter guitar show just as much thought was put into their visual identity as their sound. Schneider often evokes Deerhoof as well, especially with her title track Violence Etcetera being very reminiscent of Satomi’s soft and distinct vocals. She was joined on stage with a full band made up of Sam Lisabeth (Lead Guitar), Ben Murphy (Bass), and Nick Baker (Drums). At one point Greg from Deerhoof made an appearance on stage as well, tapping along to a song on a percussion block. Despite all of the talent up on stage, Christina is completely mesmerizing. Her lyrics are playful and poetic, with simple but continuously building melodies. While her recorded tracks almost come off as lullabies, the addition of a full band brought an extra energy to the set. Overall Christina’s performance and energy is totally timeless and memorable.
Finally it was time for Deerhoof to take the stage. Many St. Louisans got the chance to see the band at last year’s Murmuration Festival here in town, and were more than happy to see their return. September was a big month for Deerhoof with the release of their latest album, Mountain Moves, which came out on September 8th. If you’re unfamiliar with Mountain Moves or their 13 previous releases, you’re missing out. The San Francisco based experimental group has been making music together for over 20 years, touring with other great names like Sleater-Kinney and Sonic Youth. In those 20 years they have become one of the most prominent voices in the experimental scene, releasing albums that range from harsh noise to poppy hits. There is no doubt that the members of Deerhoof are seasoned performers who know what they are doing, and they have truly found a sound that is wholly theirs.
Deerhoof is made up of Satomi Matsuzaki (Vocals/Bass/Guitar), John Dieterich (Guitar), Ed Rodriguez (Guitar), and last but not least Greg Saunier (Drums). Greg functions as the founding member of the group, with Satomi joining him soon after. By 2008 the band had evolved into their current lineup, with Rodriguez as the final addition.
Satomi is a frontwoman with all the right moves. She came on stage dressed in a white jumpsuit with shoulder pads and marbled buttons across the front, most likely a creation of her own. Throughout the set not only did she carry the vocals… but she plays bass, tambourine, the percussion block, and even sprinkles in some of her own unique choreography. She wasn’t the only one looking fresh, Rodriguez donned an ornate red and white embroidered suit which matched perfectly with his guitar. The whole time you have Dieterich laid back and care free on the guitar, vibing along as they play. It is clear that Deerhoof take their showmanship and artistry extremely serious.
Saunier, the original member of Deerhoof, contributed not only with his impressive and involved performance on the drums, but with his witty banter in between songs. While the show was a great success, he told the tales of the unseen struggles on stage… bass drums inching forward out of reach, Satomi fussing with taping down her pedals, and even confessing to taking a drumstick to the head a few times. With each update the crowd was smiling and laughing along with them. Their personalities are just as approachable and charming as their music.
More photos from the show: