Tonight: Dan Deacon at the Orange Show

Dan Deacon seems to be everywhere these days, both in person and in the press. The electro-wizard from Charm City (Baltimore) is about as ebullient a musical figure as you're likely to find, and his particular brand of hyper-active "future shock" dance madness is just what the doctor ordered for an entire nation with the doldrums. Rocks Off caught up with Deacon between stops on his busy U.S. tour - which stops at the Orange Show tonight, weather permitting - trying to get a feel for what's in store.

Rocks Off: Sorry to interrupt you in the middle of your busy tour schedule.

Dan Deacon: No problem.

RO: So, let me see, you're in Atlanta right now, is that right?

DD: Athens, actually, we haven't left yet. I am literally laying in the road. The show last night didn't get out until 7 a.m. So pardon me if I'm kind of out of it.

RO: When you played in Houston last year, I was actually at that show, and I was not at all initiated into what your music was when I got the assignment to go review your show. I had no idea what to expect.

DD: That's always the best.

RO: Yeah, it was a hell of an experience. I'll come straight out and out myself: I am not a dancer. I do not enjoy moving my body, I'm not comfortable with it in the least, so I was probably one of the only people sitting off to the side while everybody else was going nuts. DD: That's OK. RO: I've heard some rumors that, at previous shows, you've actually ejected people for not being willing to be a participatory element. DD: No, I've never done that. RO: That was just hearsay? DD: Yes. RO: (Laughs) DD: I would never kick anyone out of a show for not dancing. RO: So how do you feel about participation in your shows? I mean, it's obviously something you enjoy, getting right out there on the floor, in the middle of everybody, and thrashing it out kind of seems to be your thing. Does it irk you at all when people hang back? DD: No, I mean, maybe it used to when I first started doing it, and I couldn't understand why they didn't, but there are different levels for, you know, everything. [People have] different levels of tolerance for participation, and some people just want to be entertained. Nothing wrong with that, and, uh, no there's nothing wrong with it. I probably, in ignorance, said some stupid jokes about it once. Maybe more than once, is likely, but, you know, if people don't want to do it, that's fine. I don't want to take the role of a dictator, just more like a really strong suggester. RO: How's that going on the new tour? I can only assume that the dynamics have shifted a bit. Bringing 15 people along with you, it seems like it would be kind of difficult to have everybody out there on the dance floor, surrounding you and 15 other people, plus instruments. DD: Yeah, the ensemble's on the stage, and I've been performing in the crowd, on a little riser, so I can maintain eye contact with the ensemble and the audience. Communication is one of the key elements. With that number of people, it's been important to communicate the ideas, and transfer the musical ideas - what I'm thinking, what they're thinking - back and forth. I also wanted to have a greater chance of reaching the audience, and wanted to remain performing in the crowd, but realized it might be better if I could actually see them. I don't know. The point of view has definitely shifted. It's very much a new show, a new performance. You know, it kind of evolved from the last show, but in a much more grand and theatrical sort of sense, I guess. Now there's something to watch, whereas before, it was really designed as just trippage, with nothing to watch. RO: Do you feel more like you're playing the role of conductor or band leader? DD: I guess at times, it's both sometimes. Sometimes I'm slightly conducting, and other times there's band-leading. I think part of the time, the choices are, you know, I just want it to be cohesive. I'm just one of the other performers, and it'll be like a - a well-maintained machine.

With Future Islands, Teeth Mountain, B L A C K I E and DJ Orion, 7 p.m. tonight at the Orange Show, 2402 Munger, 713-926-6368 or www.orangeshow.org.

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