There’s one key adjective to describe Deerhoof live: wild. The band’s sound itself can be divisive for crowds, as it often leaps through the deconstructed borderlands between punk, art rock, and noise pop. Members of the band tend to stand still, but they’re vibrating at their cores, matching the unharnessed electricity of the crowd gathered in front of them.
Despite their positive reputation as a live force, Fever 121614 is the band’s first live album. The set was recorded in Tokyo at a club called Fever on — you guessed it — December 16, 2014, as Deerhoof was on tour to promote La Isla Bonita. The set list is relatively diverse, including songs ranging as far back as 2003’s Apple O’. That said, they bring an intensity to each song that makes for a cohesive listen. Third up is “Let’s Dance the Jet”, a vibrant jam that for years has highlighted the quartet’s intense musicianship. It’s essentially a set of complimentary solo performances linked together in an entrancing chain. In the setting of a recorded album, it offers a moment to re-center and prepare to dive into the Deerhoof depths.
Fever 121614 captures Deerhoof’s live power, exceptionally well engineered and cavernous. The crowd for the most part is mixed into the edges, never overpowering the band but highlighted at the conclusion of the songs to reinforce the show’s magnetic appeal. It’s also a quick listen, with the longest song clocking in at three and a half minutes, and almost no time wasted between tracks. Bassist/vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki doesn’t have time for small talk, except to say a few words to the crowd in Japanese on “Twin Killers”.
As if the energy couldn’t get any more frantic, the set closes with “Come See the Duck” from the 2005 EP Green Cosmos, wherein Matsuzaki directs the crowd to yell out the first word of the title in place of her own staccato shout. Deerhoof reinvent themselves on every record, yet always remain recognizable — and this record proves that their thrilling musicianship is a large part of that essential core. Rather than reference the work they’ve made before, each project takes on a completely new form. Fever 121614 is no different, as Deerhoof harness their previous material, turn it on its anxious head, and perform it in a way that allows fresh life to creep in.
Essential Tracks: “Twin Killers”, “Let’s Dance the Jet”, and “Come See the Duck”