The New Deal in Ann Arbor
Words By Erin Slayter - Photos By Benjamin & Erin Slayter
Heading down to Ann Arbor to catch Toronto’s the New Deal we were filled with high expectations (an unannounced special guest that never materialized) and a few reservations. Going to shows at The Blind Pig for more years than we care to admit, we weren’t sure the venue was the best place to fully experience all we’d heard about tND and their unique style of improvisational electronica. Recent reviews and interviews with the trio highly touted their amazing new light show and after being rained-out at Hoxeyville Music Festival we really needed to see, hear, and experience this for ourselves.
Arriving at tBP, it was obvious that the buzz was alive and working and the street was packed with jam fans, electronica fans, and dance party fans alike. Seemed like a great mixture for a fun night. Skipping the opening band, we slid in just moments before tND took over and the crowed quickly gravitated toward the stage eager to get the party started.
Playing for over 12 years together, Dan Kurtz (bass), Darren Shearer (drums+beatbox), Jamie Shields (keyboard) never use a setlist and play 100% improv. In an interview by Nick Rhodes for Head Stash just days before coming to Ann Arbor, Darren Shearer had this to say:
“...We never write setlists. The only song we ever discuss doing is the encore. We never talk about the show. We generally start the show with a chord or progression. After 900 shows, we have a really good sense of what the crowd wants to hear and what level of intensity the crowd is at....”
From the beginning of the first set to the continuously intensifying beats of the second, it was obvious tND had correctly pegged the Blind Pig crowd as energy-filled dance machines ready to rage on into the encore. Watching most of the show from behind Jamie Shields throne on the keyboards, it was fun to watch all of the hand-signs and nods between the trio that made for seamless transitions from one song to the next. So much so that it was difficult to discern one song from the next.
If the groups dynamic beats and electric mixes aren’t enough, tND brings a full light show with two towers of LED strips and four movers gifting the audience technicolor waves of color to complete the dance party experience. The second set was an explosion of fast-paced rhythms, pulsing lights, and a raging crowd responding with showers of glowsticks.
Mid-way through the self-titled “Ginourmous Tour”, the New Deal seems like they’re just getting started and ready to blaze on through to delighted audiences across the US. Upon returning home we were treated to Tyler Henry’ Facebook status update that pretty much summed it up, “Nude eel raged face per usual. Totally destroyed the handicapped farm animal that is the blind pig.”