“Don’t you wanna be somebody, don’t you wanna be? Don’t you wanna be somebody?” Marnie Stern asked her fans as she performed her song “Noonan” during her set on Sept. 11. It was not surprising that the boisterous New York City singer and guitarist was chosen as the opening act for Atlanta-based experimental rock band Deerhunter’s fall American tour.
Their stop at the Beachland Ballroom was undoubtedly one of this fall season’s most anticipated concerts. Hundreds of contemporary rock lovers filled up the Waterloo District venue for the show.
As Marnie Stern walked on stage, wearing a floral print dress and her fresh-out-the-box pair of New Balance sneakers, the crowd cheered on and appreciated her blatant “I don’t give a f**k” attitude.
When Stern wasn’t crooning on her guitar, she gulped her beer and showed her comedic side to the audience. It was also obvious that she had chemistry with her bandmates, as she and her bassist Nithin Kalvakota stole the show at certain points with their childish yet entertaining bickering. But only good things came out of their constant teasing, as after a few attempts, Kalvakota convinced Stern to show the audience one of her unknown talents: celebrity impressions. The crowd shared some laughs as Stern did impressions of Woodie Allen and characters from the show “Seinfeld.”
Stern’s live show was effervescent and her quirkiness was flaunted through her stage presence. Plus, her affinity for shredding on the guitar only made it more enjoyable. Stern performed songs from her most recent album, “The Chronicles of Marnia,” sharing tales about her world; no lion, witch or wardrobe included. Stern’s songs highlight the daily struggles a human goes through, such as starting a new life in a different place to dealing with heartbreak to confronting feelings of inadequacy. Stern welcomed the crowd into her life through the lyrics to her songs, each ballad painting the picture of an aspect of her ever-changing life.
“Hey, you want me to slay drama/To walk in my shoes/But nothing is easy/It’s a pretty good mystery,” sang Stern while performing her song “Nothing Is Easy.”
Stern’s live performance distinctly expressed every single emotion, with the fast-paced guitar riffs and tumbling rhythms being the main determinants of her songs’ moods.
Throughout her performance, it was apparent that Stern was not a novice when it came to enticing her audience, as her spunk and unrefined humor left the crowd smitten.
Deerhunter’s headlining performance was, to say the least, hypnotic. The band’s frontman, Bradford Cox, commanded the crowd’s attention, donning a black wig that covered part of his face. Cox’s rigid and mysterious personality left the audience swimming in uncertainty throughout the band’s set. One minute Cox would be belting out on the microphone, the next he would be screaming obscenities at the sound technician when there would be a technical problem with the instruments.
Although some may have seen him as being immodest, his spontaneity kept the crowd wondering what his next action or outburst would be. Cox is known for being quite an interesting character, but there is no denying that his otherworldly style captivates all who seize the opportunity to listen to his band’s music. Though there were minor technical difficulties, the band gave an overall spectacular performance. Most of the set list was comprised of music from their latest album, “Monomania” with a few from their 2010 album “Halycon Digest.”
The band opened with the song “Earthquake” the first track off of “Halycon Digest,” which sets the scene of a lucid dream. “Do you think of me? Your long lost friend from the sea,” questioned Cox as he gave his haunting performance of the song. The cinematic elements in Deerhunter’s set wooed the crowd and kept the mood dynamic, with lighting techniques switching eerily to the music. The band concluded their set with an earsplitting, punk-infused version their latest album’s title track “Monomania,” providing an intense exit for Cox and the band.
Among the concertgoers last Wednesday was Case Western Reserve University undergraduate student Turaia Ahsan. Along with many others, Turaia was excited for the show and expressed how her experience at the show exceeded her expectations.
“It was my first time at the Beachland Ballroom and I really thought it was great for rock music,” said Ahsan. “Marnie Stern sounded pretty good, and the people who attended all had great energy.”
The Beachland Ballroom show was Turaia’s second time attending a Deerhunter show and she believed that the band successfully displayed their artistic style and mood during their live performance.
“They really do their music justice when played live. It sounded a lot more shoegaze this time,” she added.
Overall, Deerhunter and Marnie Stern gave performances that challenged the norms of the usual rock show. With their impetuous and unconventional artistic styles, both acts offered high energy and vivid shows, setting the bar for the upcoming performers for this fall season.