Words By: Joseph Hayes
Photos by: Nicole L. Browner
To the uninitiated tourist or otherwise, SF’s Sixth Street off Market is the ultimate subterfuge for a city heralded as a European-esque metropolis with flowing bohemian culture, Victorian architecture and its extraordinary landscape. This zone, like the underbelly of a Summer of Love acid trip gone so permanently awry, is a purgatorial rendition of the waking life.
And here’s Mezzanine, down the alley, sitting prideful like a once poor hipster’s warehouse space gone Club MTV set. It is the opening night of the city’s most distinctive musical tradition established in the post-lovefest era and there are a smattering of industry types in polished leather, bespectacled art students from the Academy and Institute looking gloomy in hoodies, alien beer promo prom queens in red and white silk, live blogging itinerant iPhone tappers in the corners of the balcony, that guy from the Dodos, DJ Aaron Axelson’s perfectly dazzling blonde Point Break bangs over a pair of decks, and wait of course, John Vanderslice…over there! Indeed, it must be the opening night of Noise Pop.
And Lilofee….wait, who’s Lilofee again? They’re new and local, but they’re performing with playful airs, sharp mechanical saw hooks and a robust, nearly robotic rhythm section. And this woman, the front woman, she means business. We should get a DJ and have a dance party. Wait, we should get Lilofee and have a dance party. But not a happy happy party, maybe one where your roommate just lost her job and she needs to dance that sh*t the f**k out. In any sense, who could possibly command the attention of this chatty pack of music enthusiasts all trying to hail the bartender for their first round of the night? A for effort.
Shrouded in fog emerges the heir to what is noise and pop, enter Bradford Cox, who is not in the House of Blues. This is not the old Blues, but a new breed of the most logical, illogical, melodic, discordant, blissfully quiet and dog whistle-deafening grey noise. Yes, we still remember the introverted mystique of My Bloody Valentine, and the classic, though begrudgingly dated anthems of a punked Sonic Youth, and the drug addled wanderings of Spaceman 3 and Spiritualized, but this is the end of reference. Or as my friend quipped, is Deerhunter the “American Radiohead”?
After three new songs, Cox asks us what is new, and promises to go “back in time”, but this isn’t the band who sounded like that band three years ago, or like the one who’s record leaked ten months ago, or the one who blogged a recording session from a scratched CD-R under someone’s bed, or who played the first three songs as the one who will play the last three songs tonight. Like an amorphous cluster of power cords and circuits tangled in an slowly building electrical fire in the nethers behind your computer stall, Cox and company dissipate into the smoke, knees melting into their amps, the stoic blazered bassist finally succumbing to the bottomed-out thunder he rolls off his wrists, and the microphone stand retiring to the back of the stage, leaving us with echoes on top of echoes, and a conversation of noise between your right and left ear.