Saturday, February 27, 2010

Atlas Sound @ Noise Pop

Atlas Sound
SF Noise
Pop Festival
Great American Music Hall
San Francisco, CA
February 26, 2010

I have already gone on record w/my strongly-held view that Bradford Cox is one of very few actual geniuses working in popular music today. A few months back, I was delighted to learn that he’s also a warm & engaging performer. Both aspects were again made plain on Friday night at GAMH.

This current iteration of Atlas Sound was “just” Bradford, solo, w/acoustic guitar, his (still-incongruous) harmonica, & about a dozen effects pedals & loopers. From these ingredients, Bradford crafted his sound-sculptures right there in front of us, he built them up & then he broke them back down. This music was rich & layered & sonorous & deep. Except for when it wasn’t. Because the lush, processed artifice could switch off in an eyeblink, leaving only the reedy voice, the minor chords, the harmonica whining. On a dime, this guy all alone can turn from Atlas Sound into Neil fucking Young. & when that shift happens, it’s dynamic, it’s poignant, it’s goddamn masterful. Bradford Cox whipping up High Art in real time; he’s like the iron chef I swear to god.

& yet all the while, he makes it look so easy. Bradford onstage is unassuming. He is chatty, spontaneous, just steadfastly genuine. He’s telling little stories, cracking jokes, taking requests (including mine, yay!). He’s plainly reveling in the singular moment of Now, & we are there in it with him. That feels like some magical shit. & when, late in the show, there are scattered outbursts of affection from the audience well, that feels appropriate. Because Bradford is sharing the love, & only some kind of an asshole would fail to reciprocate. I mean, right?

It was in that rather glad aura that I actually forgot to be taking notes. So I’m going to be a bit shy on the actual details here. I’m pretty sure he played for about two solid hours. I remember “Sheila” & “Walkabout,” but also a lot of songs I didn’t know, so they’re probably new. Um, he played “An Orchid.” Oh, & his dad was there.

It feels like he played about ten songs for the encore, although it may have been substantially fewer. He did play “Quarantined,” (that was my request), and he played something that we’re not supposed to tell anybody he played. (bc Lockett will get mad, so that’s all I’m gonna say about that one!) He closed out with “Kid Klimax,” and then “Logos.”

I understand that Deerhunter is about to get busy w/ new projects again, including the opening slot on Spoon’s tour. That particular circus comes to our town on April 13 at the Fox in Oakland. You going?


  1. right on man great post. i was the one who asked for the guitar pick and got it. i felt the same way very engaging show. i told him to move to oakland and i'd take him to a raider game and i also asked for kid klimax for the encore. see ya at a show.

  2. Hey, we were standing about ten feet apart.