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Published: 2005/01/09
by Justin Busch

The New Deal, Revolution Hall, Troy, NY- 12/31

Revolution Hall (at Brown's Brewing Company) is a small stately room located in the industrial riverside town of Troy, NY. Although, it holds just upward of six hundred people, as opener Moon Boot Lover took the stage, there were barely 100 on the floor. Moon Boot Lover are a bit of a throwback to the early emergence of Northeastern funk. The rhythm section lays down a tight yet flexible foundation in support of enigmatic lead guitarist Peter Prince's flashy Hendrix explosions. It was clear from the start of the set that Peter Prince is really what their show is all about. His Joe Cocker via Belushi swagger and blues rumble kept the crowds focus on him and his aggressive lead guitar lines wowed them in turn.

As Moon Boot Lover’s hour and change set chugged on, more and more anxious heads worked their way onto the floor. After Prince thanked the crowd and left the stage the energy of the room severely intensified. The party begun and spontaneous cheering ensued. Eventually The New Deal hit the stage to an enormous ovation around 11:20. Wasting no time they slammed right into "Gone Gone Gone", the title track off their most recent studio release. The retro-dance-funk of "Gone Gone Gone" immediately had the crowd shaking. As they always do, The New Deal quickly lost site of the "Gone Gone Gone" theme, never to really return. Over the course of the next 30 minutes The New Deal would continue to improvise creatively and spontaneously, at one point slipping into their "Back Off" theme, but only briefly. They touched upon dub, jungle beats, techno, house, down tempo and of course, four to the floor bass drum stomps.

Drummer Darren Shearer asked bass player Dan Kurtz and multi instrumented keyboardist Jamie Shields to slow the tempo down to 60 BPM, so each beat would equal one second for the countdown. After a quick spin on the Auld Lang Syne theme (four to the floor still prevalent) they jumped into a brand new theme, first brought to life on their most recent, albeit brief, fall tour. The whole first set was truly a testament to The New Deal’s communication and creativity. They played continuously for an hour and fifteen minutes, never once losing the energy and tightness fans have come to expect.

While the first set focused mostly on newer material and never ending dance, the second set saw The New Deal revisit themes from EP’s past. With each of the two major studio releases from The New Deal there has been a shorter EP sold separately; "Receiver" was released along side "The New Deal", and "Please Be Seated" with "Gone Gone Gone". The second set opened with Subsky from the Receiver EP. Kurtz laid down his simple yet instantly catchy repetitive bass line. Shields used atmospheric synths as the background to his cascading jazz influenced lead melodies. As Subsky ended they delved into the "Please Be Seated" E.P. and played "Birds in the Ocean pt. 2". The E.P. studio version of "Birds…" is a down beat "chill-out" work. Here, however, they stressed the four the floor drum beat and breakbeat fills more heavily. Though the beginning started off a bit unfocussed the breakbeats really added much needed intensity and kept the kids dancing.

The rest of the set remained tight and certainly contained its share of lengthy builds and peaks, but didn’t contain anything over the top. At one point Shearer decided to have a little fun with the audience, having the right side of the crowd clap on the downbeats and the left side on the upbeats. Amusing, yes, but "no hotdog" as I heard one head quip. To close out the set they decided to rehash original New Deal warhorse "Back to the Middle". Its 3/4 time signature and unpredictable hits and stops certainly do the progressive part of their sound-description justice.

For the encore they played a 15 minute "Technobeam". Another repetitive building-peaking song. Shields added layer upon layer of synths, sounds and textures as the rhythmic ostinato of the foundation hammered on. Finally, after peaking, Shearer played with the audience again, telling us he was going to see how fast we could go. The human drum machine turned its metronome up to unthinkable speeds till it finally crashed into a wall of sound.

The New Deal played a very high energy, although somewhat short New Years Eve Concert. The northeastern faithful (and travelers in kind) spilled into the quiet upstate New York night and crisp air. Shearer had some last minute advice for those of us who were staying at the Best Western Hotel just down the block. "Try not to trash the place TOO badly – but let ‘em know The New Deal is where it’s at!". Where it’s at indeed.

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