Live Review: Dan Deacon, Healthy Times Fun Club, Seattle 6/23

photo by kexpjim

Although he was billed to appear in a “Magical Hidden Cloud” on Saturday night in Seattle, Dan Deacon ended up in someone’s basement. In that dark, sweaty, humid box, lucky fans in-the-know crowded around the “oddball electronic-popster” of “absurdist” music for a mind-blowing and body-throwing set.

A classically trained, Baltimore-based solo performer, Deacon often polarizes listeners with his manic electronic freakouts. His latest album, Spiderman of the Rings, has done the same with reviewers, garnering praise from some and yielding disappointment in others. But that seems to be Deacon’s game — he pushes your tolerance for noise and chaos in the same way that he flaunts his nerdiness with inane and often ill fitting teeshirts and ginormous glasses that both shrink and magnify his face. He dares you to dislike him while underneath it all there is form, concept, and a genuinely nice personality.

For this tour, Deacon joined fellow so-called Future Shock rockers Video Hippos on a seven week tour of split locations of actual music venues (Cambridge, MA’s Middle East Upstairs) and unlikely locales (Brooklyn’s McCarren Park Pool). This weekend in Seattle, after his regularly scheduled performance at the oddly chosen Wild Rose (“There’s somethign odd about this place… This lesbian bar doesn’t have a fire exit!”), Dan Deacon performed a “secret late show” at the Healthy Times Fun Club, the basement of a couple named Rebecca and Jake. The club is more than a music venue, however. According to their MySpace page, members share interests of “Bikes. Basements. Short-sleeved sweatshirts. Knitting. Crafts. Jams. Best Friends.” Here’s how Rebecca described it to me:

Since we all love to ride bikes and hang out and do crafts we (myself, jake severn, chris govella, and julianna wisdom) decided to start a nonmilitant bike gang/ craft/ collaborative dinner making club. We came up with the name Healthy Times Fun Club because it sounded like the most fluffy nonmilitant and exciting title for what we had in mind. We want to build community, learn from each other and just have the most inclusive fun ever in the world, together. We just had our first of our regular last Sunday of the month brunch meetings to plan outings and events for the club and it went super well, we had a great turnout and have some great ideas for bike trips and how to workshops that will happen soon. We also attend meetings with the Seattle DIY collaborative and they are very supporting of us!

Kevin & Jim of Video Hippos
photo by Clark Fredricksen

The live sets, performed in Rebecca’s own bedroom, were all amazing. I missed the first act, Orcateers, but I did catch Little Party and The Bad Business, whose youthful chant-alongs accompanied by casiotone and microkorg energized the crowd. The set performed by drum and guitar duo Video Hippos seemed in comparison more intense, hypnotic, and dangerous — if you could discount the Teletubbies projected in the background.

The main attraction, of course, was Deacon. His rats nest of gear included a delay pedals, samplers, an iPod attached to a banana, what looked like a box of light switches and outlets, various microphones, and who knows what else, all secured to a table with multicolored tape. Added to this mess of electronics was Deacon’s replacement Casiotone MT-800, which he managed to borrow after soliciting for a replacement on his MySpace page. Not being the most with-it Deacon fan, I can’t give a full set list of songs, but I did recognize many fan faves like “Crystal Cat,” “Big Big Big Big Big,” “Okie Dokie,” and “Trippy Green Skull.” Before the tour began, Deacon sought four men and four women from each location to join his Wham City choir, complete with letter adorned robes, to sing along. The basement was far too hot for this nonsense (which I mean in a good way), so the robes were abandoned, as were Deacon’s glasses, for this performance, just in case anybody caught “some sort of rash.” Instead, he passed the lyric sheets to “Wham City” to the crowd and we all sang along.

Dan Deacon
@ Healthy Times Fun Club 6/23/07

Although I’m about two decades too old for house parties, and this one in particular beat me to exhaustion, this was not a typical house party, at least not like what I remember from high school. For one, the welcoming atmosphere of Healthy Times was something I don’t normally experience at a stranger’s house. After locating the residence in a neighborhood like any other in the city, I followed a small group who looked quite obviously to going to the party — upswept hair, white pants, black tee shirts with gold lettering, you get the idea — and found myself in a furnished basement also like any other, except the walls were covered with artwork and random curiosities, and the kitchen was filled with bags of chips, bowls of vegetables and other snacks, cans of beer brought and shared by other concert-goers. It was a party of friends that I wasn’t invited to but was welcomed all the same. The bands came out and talked with fans, though it’s not like there was really anywhere else to go, and people seemed to converse openly with each other because all shared the same basic interest. And when it was all over, they stuck around to clean up after themselves. Like I said, not like the house parties of my youth.

[edit: actually, there were some issues that may prevent futures shows; read about it on the Healthy Times MySpace page]

Dan Deacon photos
by Clark Fredricksen

Keep an ear to the ground for more performances at Healthy Times Fun Club, and if this welcoming environment sounds appealing to you, I encourage you to contact Rebecca through their MySpace page and consider getting involved. Also, at some point in the future, Dan Deacon will be back to play the Vera Project. The date isn’t listed yet on their calendar, so stay tuned.

Dan Deacon – Wham City (MP3)

Video Hippos – Koolshades (MP3)

Get mp3’s and listen to songs for Orcateers and Little Party and The Bad Business at their MySpace pages.

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One Comment

  1. Whitney
    Posted October 1, 2007 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    I just went to the Healthy Times Fun Club on Saturday Sept. 29th for an awesome show!
    LP and BB played with a few bands from France and SEAHOUSE out of Issaquah, WA.

    I had never been to the basement before, but after walking several blocks of Capitol Hill, my friend and I heard the music from the door of a store front, so we started looking for this “hidden” door.
    Finally, we found a group of people that looked like they would be at the show, and walked down the steps.
    I love the Healthy Times Fun Club atmosphere, the white walls make everything so awake, and lively. The art on the walls certainly add a warming feature, makes the place more unique with original art.

    I have to say, the bathroom was sick! I mean, a good sick! The toilet was set up on a set, kind of awkward to aim for, but it was crazy, and there was water on the floor, but it made me think that I was floating into the bathroom, I mean, there is supposed to be water in a bathroom!

    All in all, it was a good time.

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