Polyvinyl Records, 2015
Review by Kent Manthie
Deerhoof has just come out with a live album that will show all those who haven’t experienced their live sets, what they’re like in concert; live; up on stage. The name of the album comes from the fact, that, last year, December 16, Deerhoof, who were on a tour of Japan at the time, played a gig at Fever which they taped, for posterity. Well, it’s a year later and now their set at Fever, in Tokyo, is the setting of this killer album by the San Francisco-based Deerhoof. So, Fever 121614 comes from the fact that they played a club in Tokyo called Fever and it was on 12-16-14 (December 16, 2014) – get it?
Fever 121614 and it has a raw, edgy, rockin’ sound to it. It starts off with a rollicking rendition of “Exit Only”. In the beginning of the song, Satomi sings in this soft, breathy kind of way that reminded me of one of my two favorite female indie rockers: Kim Gordon (the other being Patti Smith). On this live version of “Paradise Girls” Deerhoof really let loose, whereas the studio version from their 2014 album, La Isla Bonita is a wonderful, delightful and groovy, to the maximum, psychedelic zoom, where, for one, Satomi’s voice is more audible – her mic was turned up louder or mixed in better, etc. Another thing that differs is the restraint shown by guitar wunderkind, Ed Rodriguez. At first you don’t hear too much, but, a little way in, you hear bits and pieces of his great cutting, razor-sharp, whip-cracking guitar riffin’. But, when they play it live, captured as it is, from Fever, in Tokyo, “Paradise Girls” is less restrained, guitar-wise: Ed’s all over the place, non-stop, loud, piercingly-high notes, chopping lower notes, etc. and Satomi’s voice, not being overseen by a smart studio engineer, and whose microphone is probably not turned up loud enough, doesn’t project the same sort of sexy, rough timbre it has on La Isla Bonita. It’s a similar thing with “Mirror Monster”, which happens to be the 2nd song and the one right after “Paradise Girls”, on La Isla Bonita – the live version shows a less refined, less straitjacketed band, unleashed in the east, as it were, and not merely recreating the exact same thing that one can find on the album. So there’s that. Still, going back and listening to La Isla Bonita is a treat in itself. The whole album has a little more kitschy-pop-dance style, with wickedly devilish guitar mixed in as well as an atypical pop-rock drummer: he has some jazz chops that can really put the songs in a different light. One more La Isla Bonita–Fever 121614 comparison: the “Exit Only” studio version, which, I must say, has a great, dreamy, but the kind of jump-cut/all over the place type of dream. As the opening cut on Fever 121614, it is a great song with which to open the set. Again, the live version of “Exit Only” is, like, “let out of its cage” – the whole band really kick out the jams here – a great one with which to start the show: injected with wild, freak-out guitar screams, a jumpin’-up-&-down feel to it, it’s the perfect way to get the party started. The studio version, again, is a good tune in its own right, but, I wouldn’t say it’s their strongest tune on the album, though it does have Deerhoof’s typical brightly shining brilliance.
After doing “Paradise Girls”, they jump right into “Let’s Dance the Jet” and then stop for about a second before “Doom” begins. “Doom” is a great freakout – one that is jarring in its biting guitar works. Then, they get into “Fresh Born”, a really catchy, groovy song which will have you, at the least, bobbing your head up and down or, if you’re really in the mood, you’ll be up and dancing around the room; if you have good equilibrium, you’ll just barely miss knocking over any big or expensive stuff and that will give you all the more of a rush.
I could go on and on about each song’s merits and how they all have a great live sound to them, but I think it would be better to just tell you that the whole album’s one big, exciting live show that really gets your blood flowing and adrenalin pumping.
I don’t know how words could explain the wild rush Fever 121614 is. I can keep trying, though. For those who are big fans of Sonic Youth, Superchunk or even the Stooges of old, back in the Stooges and Fun House era -you will be really impressed by the excitement that just oozes out of your speakers (or headphones, as the case may be). One piece of advice I can give you is, when you play this, turn it up, loud!! For, just like listening to the first Stooges album full blast will really get you all pumped and ready for anything, the same thing goes with Fever121614: it’s very pleasing to the mind when played at an ear-splitting volume. Anyway, I thought it would also be a nice treat, since I, earlier, posted a video of Deerhoof playing “We Do Parties” live from their Tokyo set, that’s captured on Fever, I decided I’d also post, with this review, another video I got from Pitchfork, “Basketball Get Your Groove On”, which was played in front of security cameras at whatever hotel they were staying for their appearance at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in 2009. Enjoy!! And, get your hands on the just-released Fever 121614, which was just released on “Black Friday” -the big shopping day, for all those who just have to have that certain toy or TV or computer or whatever it is they want for an xmas present or for a personal present, etc. -KM.