NORTH ADAMS -- NPR describes Dan Deacon as "one of the few pop electronic dance music-makers who is also consistently described as a composer." Deacon, who is based in Baltimore, studied electronic music composition at the prestigious Conservatory of Music at SUNY Purchase and rose to prominence with his hyperactive orchestral creations. Deacon’s music betrays the influence of Devo, The Talking Heads, and People Like Us; he lists inspirations as wide-ranging as the Italian Futurists, Marvel comics, and underground rock. His high-energy live show comes to MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Saturday, April 20, at 8 PM.
Often performing without a stage, Deacon sets up his equipment on a small table in the crowd. He explained this preference to The A.V. Club: "One, it’s more fun for me, and two, the show isn’t about looking at someone perform...I wanted people to watch themselves dance around, to have a feedback cycle of audience reacting to audience." Deacon interacts with the crowd, organizing dance-offs and sharing humorous anecdotes. In August 2012, he launched a Smartphone app that synchronizes in real time to the show’s light and sound components, allowing the audience to participate in his signature concert ambiance. At MASS MoCA, audience members with iPhones or Androids can download the app for free and watch their phone become a part of the concert - the light and sound changes depending on where the phone is located within the venue.
Deacon made his debut as part of the Baltimore performance art collective Wham City. His 2003 solo debut Meetle Mice included the track Drinking Out of Cups. When Deacon’s friend, animator Liam Lynch, created a YouTube video of the same name, featuring a computer-generated lizard and Deacon’s characteristic wit, the result was a viral sensation with more than 17 million views. Since then, Deacon has released eight more EPs and albums. Pitchfork Media named him "the Dean Martin of self-soldered electronics" and listed his album Spiderman of the Rings among the "best new music" of 2007. His most recent release, America, marks a step toward more sophisticated composition and "an attempt to bridge the genre gap between the hypnotic tones of techno...and the minimalist mantras of Steve Reich, Mike Oldfield, LaMonte Young and Philip Glass," according to The Los Angeles Times.
Deacon’s artistic career includes many notable and varied achievements for a musician just over 30. In February 2011, Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony performed Deacon’s original composition Electronic Bus, which the Symphony’s music director Edwin Outwater described as Deacon’s"minimalist magnum opus...a childhood gone horribly right." The same year, Deacon composed the score for Francis Ford Coppola’s horror thriller Twixt, starring Val Kilmer and Elle Fanning. Deacon then performed Take a Deep Breath at Carnegie Hall as John Cage’s centennial tribute, during the American Mavericks series in March 2012. The New York Times praised the composition as "the most memorably peculiar (in a good way) offering of the evening" as "audience members were given three pages of specifically timed instructions for the piece - a score, in effect - and told that participation was not optional."
Dan Deacon performs in MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Saturday, April 20, at 8 PM. Full bar plus dinner and snacks from Lickety Split are available before and during the show. Tickets are $12 in advance, $16 on the day of the show, and $10 for students. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office, located off Marshall Street in North Adams, from 11 AM until 5 PM (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased online at www.massmoca.org.