THE NEW DEAL at the Opera House, May 11. Tickets: $12. Attendance: 700. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
the new deal are easy to like but tough to explain. The trio's own definition of their uproariously percussive instrumental thunder is "live progressive breakbeat house," or the unlikely but powerful point at which funk-fuelled jams and electronic music converge.
But since when were funk and electronic music supposed to converge? Strange as it sounds, though, it works, which is part of what makes the New Deal so special. And until you see them cranking it out at full throttle, it's difficult to imagine the hypnotic pull keyboardist Jamie Shields, drummer Darren Shearer and bassist Dan Kurtz exert on a crowd when they stumble onto a wicked groove, then mercilessly tease it out until it's exhausted.
Watching them work folks into an ecstatic lather at the Opera House Friday -- interpretive dancers were well represented alongside a disproportionate number of chicks in halter tops -- it was easy to understand why the group has attracted jam-band devotees in the U.S.
No two sets are exactly the same, and there's always a sense that the collective mood on any given night sculpts the performance just as much as Shearer's feral poundings.
In fact, Shields is on record as saying as much as 90 per cent of a given gig might be improvised, and the band was clearly getting good vibes from their hometown crew. During their first set, gales of beats were turned inside out as the trio lurched from one track to another without a break, creating a sonic shitstorm that steamrolled everything in its path and then came back for more.
Let's see Phil Lesh top that.