This was fun with a capital F. Well, a capital Red F if you know what I mean. It's hard to put into words what a Dan Deacon show is like. The big man from Baltimore is all about community and joy. He is bulging with bodaciousness. He is bigger than life. He is love and happiness and connection and all of disciples are made to feel it.
Where to start? Well firstly this is now Dan Deacon and his Ensemble. Four very talented people from Baltimore including producer Chester Gwazda who played synth and keyboard. He also had another keyboardist and two drummers! Dan himself was up on stage with his huge mixing desk. So initially I thought the audience participation might be a thing of the past as he wasn't down in the crowd with his people. Which would have been fine as the music was plenty to take in and absorb. Huge epic symphonies and wonderful pop moments meshing together in an organic maelstrom. And the live drumming added a further touch to the music, pushing each song with robust thrusts. Opener "Get Older" was bombastic and huge and "Paddling Ghost" was whirlwind fun. Then new song "U.S.A." was a monster. A beast. But after about 20 minutes Dan involved the audience in all of the fun. First we formed a circle and two people at a time were invited to dance like crazy before tagging fresh people to join in. Somehow I ended up in the front of the circle and I was tagged to dance. Which I did. Huge fun. Then later on we formed a walkway with couples continually running and dancing up and down the lane. Soon we were forming a human tunnel which extended out into the Hyde Park Barracks courtyard. My absolute highlight though was when we formed a circle around Sophie (a close friend I presume) and shadowed her interpretive dance moves. As the band played the stratospheric "Of the Mountain". It was actually not only great fun, but quite emotionally affecting. A sublime moment. The band pushed on with the uplifting "Build Voice" and the super fun "The Crystal Cat". To then receive "Wham City" was simply more than we could have possibly asked for. So much fun. Such a connection to previous strangers. It's a great feeling to not only share but feel quite deeply a common experience. This was my first Sydney Festival experience in 2012 but Dan Deacon and his Ensemble have set the bar very high.
Trippy Green Skull
Of the Mountains
The Crystal Cat