With the release of 2015’s Fading Frontier, Deerhunter has cemented itself as one of indie rock’s most consistent, and unpredictable, acts. Disguised in a hoodie and neon sunglasses, frontman Bradford Cox walked on stage Sunday night at The Midway along with the rest of the band before immediately ripping into a one-two punch combo with Microcastle cuts “Cover Me (Slowly)” and “Agoraphobia.” The Atlanta group initially give off the introverted vibe that’s to be expected from shoegazers like themselves — but as the set continued, it was clear that this introversion could easily be mistaken for the focus Deerhunter songs require.
Translating a dreamy, guitar effects-laden sound, those songs find new life on stage. The best example could be Halcyon Digest fan favorite “Desire Lines,” written by co-vocalist Lockett Pundt. On the record, it ends by gently fading into an ocean of reverb-heavy guitars, but on stage, the band chose to extend the outro into a flurry of harsh (but appealing) noise. Jamming is something Deerhunter excels at, and it allows their compositions to breathe in ways that cannot be done on record.
A one-song encore, “Nothing Ever Happened,” pushed it to the limit. Normally a six-minute track, the band expanded it into a nearly 20-minute odyssey complete with Cox mashing in snippets of Patti Smith’s classic, “Land.” The encore included some assistance from Battles’ guitarist Ian Williams, who is no stranger to off-kilter (but never offbeat) jam sessions. Even though they may have tested the crowd’s patience by the end of the encore, Deerhunter ultimately left the audience satisfied with a career-spanning set that included many of their most beloved songs. On “Helicopter,” Cox ends the fantasy-like song howling, “Now they are through with me,” but Deerhunter’s audience on Sunday night implied the opposite.