To be perfectly honest, I’m not the biggest Darwin Deez fan in the world. I don’t dislike the guy (whose real name is Darwin Smith), and I think he makes some remarkably addictive and sometimes goofy indie pop songs through a simplistic lens, but there are times to me when it seems like he’s trying a little too hard. That’s much more apparent on his second album Songs for Imaginative People, which beefs up his sound a bit more but forgoes some of the lighthearted and silly elements that made his self-titled debut such a treat. Obviously he wants to move beyond whatever labels that have plagued him in the past, however if he’s not true to himself then you get those forced situations that turn people off. That serious, all-business side of him thankfully failed to show itself during his show at Schubas Tavern this past Friday night. It was clear right from the get-go that Deez and his band had every intention of putting on an off-the-charts fun show, and I’m pleased to report that they did just that.

It started with a choreographed dance number. All four guys in the band stood across the stage and grooved to a beat in unison for about 30 seconds, before going to pick up their instruments. The crowd loved it, so of course they’d do it a couple more times during the set. Consider them little interludes connecting the songs, because there certainly wasn’t a whole lot of between song banter. Deez didn’t need it though, because in many ways his songs said everything he wanted them to anyways. It was a very smart set list, split almost evenly between his two full lengths to date, and he hit all the necessary highlights. The crowd went nuts for classic cuts like “Radar Detector” and “DNA,” but moments like “You Can’t Be My Girl” and the ballad “Redshift” off the new album struck like lightning too. That a weaker track or two like “Good to Lose” and “All in the Wrist” popped up and didn’t really detract from the overall success of the set either suggests they improve in a live setting or are raised to a higher level thanks to the songs that surround them. Whatever the reason for that, things went very smoothly overall and there was rarely a lag in the energy or mood on stage or in the crowd. When they weren’t doing choreographed dances, most of the band members were bouncing around in the small space of the Schubas stage. Everyone in the audience was in a tight spot too, as the show was sold out, but that didn’t stop the toe taps, hip thrusts and alcohol-infused sing-alongs. You really couldn’t have asked for much more out of a Darwin Deez show, and why would you? The guy may not be the most brilliant musician in the world, but he knows how to leave you wanting more both on record and on stage. To many, that’s worth its weight in gold.

Darwin Deez – You Can’t Be My Girl

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U.S. Tour Dates
March 26th – Pittsburgh, PA at Stage AE
March 27th – Cleveland, OH at Beachland Tavern
March 28th – Buffalo, NY at Soundlab
March 29th – Toronto, ON at The Garison
March 30th – Montreal, QC at Casa del Popolo
March 31st – Burlington , VT at Signal Kitchen
April 1st – Northampton, MA at Iron Horse
April 2nd – Allston at Brighton Music Hall
April 3rd – New York, NY at Bowery Ballroom
April 4th – Philadelphia, PA at First Unitarian Church
April 5th – Washington at Black Cat