The move to go backstage was sudden. Without a choice, my friend and I were told, “Let’s go,” as Lockett Pundt’s cousin (a friend from home) told us to follow her backstage, along with the rest of Lockett’s close relatives. Guitarist, Lockett Pundt leads us up multiple flights of stairs to Georgia Theater’s “backstage.” Bradford sits on an ottoman, surrounded by his family members. His aunt is sewing a “Volvo” patch on his red jacket. Notorious Deerhunter dog, Faulkner, greets us, and Cox relates family stories as if he had known us for years. It seemed as if we were an audience to Pundt and Cox’s family affairs, but in no way did it feel like intruding. Cox’s bubbly humor and Pundt’s stoic poise created the atmosphere of a friendly hang out, and the same is true of their performance.
We left backstage to leave the family members to their pre-show reunion and found a spot on the balcony, right above the stage. Bitchin Bajas opened with an instrumental, psychedelic jazz sound. Their combination of saxophone and keyboard offered a smooth transition to Deerhunter’s loud, pop rock style. With the theater packed, Deerhunter enters onto a neon stage in front of what one security guard predicted as “close to a thousand” audience members. Cox honors those who saw their show at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta (Deerhunter’s origin) the night before. Guitarist, Josh McKay, greeted the audience as an Athens native. Cox joked, “We loved Athens so much we imported their guitarist.” Deerhunter dedicated various songs from their new album, Fading Frontier, to their family members. Cox dedicated “Take Care” to his mom, who watched from the VIP section.
I found my gaze leaving the stage throughout the set to watch audience members. People swayed back and forth, a guy jumped up and down out of rhythm to the songs, couples stood together. On stage, Cox invites the boys of Bitchin Bajas to join them, and the show eventually became an extended jam session between good friends. Songs like “Snakeskin” played longer for a 5-minute, ambient collaboration. The song ends as Cox slowly kneels on the floor, eventually hovering over his guitar on the stage floor. It’s obvious the other band members are unsure what’s happening. Pundt leans to Cox and laughingly asks the audience if there’s a doctor around, because Cox had “seized” and “couldn’t get up.” Cox immediately stands up and laughs about Pundt’s inadequate delivery of the joke.
The band continued their set for a twenty-minute encore before Cox thanked the audience and told us goodbye. The show harbored a sense of familiarity and friendliness. Deerhunter performed in such a way that audience members, or myself at least, felt comfortable. In no way did the band members seem “untouchable,” instead they were welcoming and real. Of course, Deerhunter is on their way to wider recognition, but it was obvious as I watched backstage and from the balcony above, family and friends play a large part in Deerhunter’s success and will continue to keep them grounded, and their warm interactions with the audience will keep us all coming back for more.
Nikki grew up in an imitation German town in Georgia by the name of Helen. It wasn’t until middle school that she started to get interested in the arts: painting, music, and writing. She wrote in her diary, sketched in art class and listened to regretful music. By high school, her tastes became a little more refined. She found Fiona Apple, Lou Reed and Giant Drag, and they remain her favorites in college. She was accepted to the University of Georgia in 2012 and is currently majoring in English. Upon moving to Athens from a town with more trees than people, Nikki was a bit overwhelmed. However, there is certainly no lack of inspiration in Athens, and she appreciates its love for the arts and its service as a platform.