When you have a band as adventurous and ambitious as Deer Vibes, you better mic them correctly. What’s the point of having a 10-piece combo that includes viola, cello, and violin, if you won’t be able to hear the strings? You don’t overlook that, especially at a place like Sam’s, which is one of the best-sounding venues in town.
But DV is more than strings, and they proved it right off the bat. “Gold Leaf” and “Ventura,” included in the Ventura EP they were presenting, came off as a powerful orchestral wall of sound, and if you didn’t care about the strings (or lack thereof) the band tore up the room in the first two tracks (a lesson to some of the previous bands on the bill: throw bombs from the beginning).
Then Mikey Vibe started tuning up the guitar in the middle of the song, while bassist Alejandro Esquivel, on his knees, started playing around with his pedals. After that the band started taking forever in between songs. On the first of the new songs not on the EP (“How I Was Made” and “Bugs”), the mostly instrumental band tried to do some harmless vocal harmonies, resulting in three or four people looking at each other and singing basically the same note in different octaves. In between, again: tuning, tuning, and more tuning. Yet, you couldn’t keep your eyes off them.
“Are you still with us?” Vibe asked the crowd. Yes they were, and that included an illustrious member of the audience sitting in the back.
“I saw a band called Deer Vibes last night in Texas, San Antonio,” wrote Gordon Raphael, producer of the Strokes’ first two albums, on his Facebook page. “It was one of the most enjoyable concerts experiences I have ever had … They rearranged my mind, in the most delightful way...”
Oh, well. Like Jerry Lee Lewis once said, after reluctantly opening for Chuck Berry and closing his set by setting the piano on fire: “Let any son of a bitch top that.”