Groove on with Dan Deacon
Groove Korea debuts music showcase with Dan Deacon live on Nov. 28
If you type “Dan Deacon” into a search engine, chances are, it’s not because you’re tracking down a writer slash copy editor based out of Seoul of the same name (that’s yours truly). No, the Dan Deacon you’ve more likely heard of is the renowned Baltimore-based electronic musician, composer, film scorer and founding member of the Wham City art collective, a man who has toured in a vegetable oil-fueled school bus and releases music with addictive melodic lines, distorted samples and acoustic textures.
Though being a classically trained musician and dabbling in movie scores, it’s the eight electronic albums that Deacon has released since 2003 that have garnered him the most attention — well, that and his live performances. Fortunately, Deacon is returning to Seoul during his Asian tour to kick off Groove Korea’s music showcase, Groove On, with a manic, sweaty electronic dance party on Nov. 28 at Club FF in Hongdae.
A return to form
If there was one show that you did not want to miss back in 2012, it was Deacon’s sets when he hit up Busan and Seoul that January. “The audience in the last show in Seoul was rad. It was the last show of a small tour of Asia and the audience were by far the most wild,” he recalls. “(Coming to Korea) is one of my favorite memories out of years and years of touring. Everything about it was super fun. It felt like visiting the future.”
Fast-forward to 2014, and Deacon’s gigs are still hard to beat. His shows are not your typical dance music gigs, and he’s known to go the extra mile to break down the barrier between performer and audience. There’s no standing quietly at the back of the room or staring up at the musician on stage; the audience is as much a part of the show as he is. “To me, the audience is … the most important part of the performance,” he says. Live, his songs build slowly, adding layers that rise and crest and recede and crest again until they break into a euphoric wave of synthesizers, drums and rippling vocals; watch the videos on YouTube and you’ll see that at his last gig in Seoul, he got his audience running around in a clearing in the room high-fiving each other and had bodies flailing around on the floor as he let the music loose. Expect flashing lights, lots of noise and an unusual pull toward the dance floor.
Unlike most shows since the dawn of social media backlash, this is a concert where you won’t feel like a jerk for taking out your iPhone. Deacon’s app, powered by Wham City Lights, responds to ultrasonic tones to light up the screens of audience members’ phones, turning them into a synchronized light show. “Having lots of people interacting together, making something on the spot, creating something together and shifting the focus from stage to audience to individual to group opens up a lot of possibilities for new things that would be impossible otherwise,” he says. You don’t get that at a Mariah Carey show.
Having spent this past spring and summer touring North America with Arcade Fire and putting on his own shows, Deacon has still somehow managed to record a new album, which just entered the mixing stage. He says it will be a “return to synthetic sounds” with a lot of the songs “fixed on one chord” and his vocals sounding “much more ‘natural,’ or at least discernible, on this record.”
So after years on the road and all his famous performances, he must have seen a lot of crazy things, right? “I always suck at ‘what’s the craziest’ questions. Every experience is unique and crazy in its own way,” he says. But what he does hope for the Seoul gig is for fans to “have fun and smile.”
Groove On with Dan Deacon
When: Nov. 28, 11 p.m.
Where: Club FF, Hongdae
How much: 35,000 won early bird; 40,000 won advance (to Nov. 27); 45,000 won at the door
More info and ticketing: groovekorea.com