Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu bring sound and fury to Paramount

By Michael Brodeur
Globe Staff / October 12, 2010

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If you’re wondering how the sound is at the restored Paramount Theatre: It’s amazing. You hear everything. During Sunday evening’s inaugural rock show for the theater, when I went to jot down a line from Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart — “thinking of her dream makes her feel like it’s stupid,’’ from “Dr. Troll’’ — the click of my pen echoed like I’d dropped a phonebook.

So Xiu Xiu’s show had an air of forced intimacy, which turned out to be perfect for the band’s uniquely bent psych-pop (and that’s not “psychedelic’’).

Each song found Stewart’s voice flailing against the lovely Art Deco lines along the ceiling. Stewart’s cohort Angela Seo efficiently pivoted between synth and bashing away at an array of bells and cymbals — most proficiently during “In Lust You Can Hear the Axe Fall.’’

But Stewart’s songs are most disquieting at their quietest, as with “Sad Pony Guerrilla Girl,’’ the haunting, tremulous opener of his 2003 breakthrough, “A Promise.’’ Just listening to the song felt like some sort of violation against it.

Breaking through their new-space jitters, the whole house took to their feet for Deerhoof’s stunning career-spanning sampler of a set. Though the set drew from all over the Deerhoof songbook — the rollicking “Panda Panda Panda’’ from 2003’s “Apple O’,’’ a slinky, almost noir take on “Desapareceré’’ from 2004’s “Milk Man,’’ and a storming romp through “The Perfect Me’’ from 2007’s “Friend Opportunity’’ — there was a dazzling consistency to their chaos. Other times, it sounds like a tray of pop tropes dropped down the stairs. Both are equally satisfying.

Drummer/mastermind Greg Saunier — in purple pants and bright green sneakers — bashed at his tiny drum kit as though he were swatting bees (whether there was a song in progress or not), and vocalist/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki busted out callisthenic dance moves between her polyglot chirps. Guitarists John Dieterich and Ed Rodriguez were appropriately centered, braiding jagged melodies together in errant knots that ultimately held each song tight.

Selections from their most recent, “Offend Maggie,’’ raced by in deft stumbles — sometimes the songs sounded like attempts to escape themselves. At one point, the band all switched places to offer a feather-soft version of The Troggs’ “With a Girl Like You’’ and it would have felt out of place if even their wildest forays to the fringe weren’t so fraught with beauty.

Michael Brodeur can be reached at


With Xiu Xiu

At: Paramount Theatre, Sunday