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Live Review: Deerhoof, Ryley Walker, and Gwenifer Raymond, Brudenell Social club

Gwenifer Raymond began proceedings in the cavernous space of the Brudenell main room and got the gig off to a perfect start. Whilst her brooding and contemplative compositions eased the growing audience in gently, her skilled playing and progressive structures complimented what her fellow acts were to bring.

Ryley Walker ditched the blues licks and acoustic guitars that permeate his extensive discography to deliver an hour of tight, frantic, and versatile progressive rock. Performing as part of a three-piece, Walker’s expert use of pedals ensured a full and rich sound, even utilizing effects on his amplifier to dictate shifts in tempo throughout certain passages. Vocals were used sparingly, typically with one melodic breakdown per song in which the Rockford rocker infused verses from his solo work. These sections signaled the most dramatic shifts in tone but served as welcome breaks to allow the audience and musicians alike to catch a breath.

Both artists were thrilled to be playing on the same line-up as legendary noise-punk outfit Deerhoof, and it didn’t take long to understand why, as their mind-bending time signatures and ear-piercing guitars and vocals saw the enthusiasm of the crowd increase exponentially throughout their set. Every member of the band gave a flawless performance and combined to be greater than the sum of their already impressive parts. John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez are atypical as guitarists in the sense that they play supporting roles, but they do so expertly and complimented each other incredibly well.

Bassist and vocalist Satomi Matsutake is equal parts charismatic and calculated, and the songs in which she handed the bass over to a bandmate showcased her complete mastery of the complex rhythms as she reeled off semi-choreographed dance moves to the shifting signatures with ease. She seemed surprised that this knowledge wasn’t something everyone on earth is born with, as she attempted to conduct a crowd singalong to “come see the duck” which perplexed almost the entire audience. This laid bare the intricacies of Deerhoof’s music and showcased just one of the reasons why drummer and founder Greg Saunier is the heartbeat of the group (although if your heart beats like he drums you should consult a doctor).

Sitting atop a drumkit consisting solely of a kick, snare, floor tom, and crash ride, Saunier not only guided the band expertly through the breathless passages and ever-shifting time signatures, but he did so whilst thrashing out fills that would lead a listener to believe he was playing a kit fit for a Metallica world tour. The sound he generates is nothing short of astonishing, blending technical wizardry with ruthless power that far exceeds what his slight figure should reasonably be able to produce.

If all this were not enough, he is also the band's spokesman, often climbing from his kit to scuttle to Matsutake’s vocal mic and hunch over it to address the crowd. Sporting a paint splatter-patterned t-shirt, tiny orange shorts, and a bowl cut that created the look of a child who had magically aged forty years overnight, he spoke as he drummed- meandering, overly complex, but entirely captivating. His standout quote came during his second stint at the mic; “Although I have neither consulted my bandmates nor plan to, I think I can safely suggest a great probability that we are having an extremely high amount of fun.” It was a sentiment clearly echoed by the crowd and rightly so. All three acts showed genuine admiration for one another and combined for an excellent gig that won’t be forgotten in a hurry by those in attendance.


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