Long Island-born composer Dan Deacon has been a fixture in Baltimore’s music and art scene since 2004 when he and several classmates from SUNY Purchase created Wham City, an arts collective infamous for blurring the boundaries between performance and madness.
Inspired in part by minimalist and atonal compositions, Deacon has created works like Meetle Mice (2003) and Spiderman of the Rings (2007), the latter of which was praised for its “cacophonous electronic surface,” as well as its connection to “batshit bubblegum pop.”
“I feel like most of my audience‚ at least when I first started‚ was just nerds,” Deacon told an interviewer in 2009. Nerds or not, his audience is a key part of every Deacon show, where he encourages his fans to join in with his band in large scale improvisations that create just barely controlled spectacles. Always at risk of tipping into outright chaos, Deacon’s shows were once described by NPR as “comically unpredictable messes of frenetic dancing, audience participation and theatrics.”
“When I would perform solo it was always about let’s see how far the audience is willing to get taken,” Deacon has said. “The goal was to see how much you can organize chaos.”