“Do you guys like krautrock?”

We’re all familiar with that guy who thinks he’s the funniest, hippest hipster in the room by yelling an ironic request for ‘Free Bird’ during a show. Most of us think that guy is an idiot. All musicians think that guy is an idiot. Most will ignore him. Some, like Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock, will call him out on it (a pretty hilarious example of this is documented on MM’s live album Baron von Bullshit Rides Again). Then, there’s Deerhunter/Atlas Sound front-man Bradford Cox. Cox was evidently in no mood for joke requests in Minneapolis a few nights ago. Or perhaps this was the ultimate mood for joke requests. He not only called that guy out, but indulged his request for The Knack’s ‘My Sharona’ and turned it into an hour-long krautrock jam session featuring both of the show’s opening bands.

This article tells the story in all its glorious detail, but the short version is that Cox looped the song’s bass line, sang and drummed by himself for a few minutes, and eventually invited his opening bands to join him in a performance which involved the whole audience briefly waving folding chairs above their heads, as well as the original request-yeller being called on stage and commanded to strip. The whole thing was bizarre to say the least. But it was also pretty awesome. If there’s a better way to take out frustration on a heckler while simultaneously putting on an unexpected and incredibly entertaining looking show, I can’t come up with it. This is the ultimate response to that idiot. It’s hilarious, it’s ballsy, and it’s about as punk as you can get these days. Neither Deerhunter nor Atlas Sound fall under ‘punk rock’ exactly, but in interviews Cox has always come across as someone thoroughly enamored by the whole idea of being ‘punk.’ As he restates in the interview/diatribe regarding this show that was published on Pitchfork today, he gives no fuck about how people perceive his words or actions. He performs what he damn well pleases, and whoever doesn’t like it can be directed toward the door. That’s the essence of punk as an attitude I think, and it’s an admirable one in an age where an artist’s every move is being recorded by a hundred different iPhones and uploaded to YouTube within the hour.

Personally, I think the performance sounds massively entertaining. I wish I’d seen it myself. Cox seems displeased that it became a news story, but that part of it doesn’t bother me. I’m glad I managed to hear about it. It is disheartening, though, to see that the prevailing attitude towards the whole thing is one of snarky derision rather than amusement or admiration. Some people apparently became uncomfortable as the performance progressed, but no one was forcing them to stay and watch. To hear Cox describe it, most people were enjoying themselves anyway. It’s not even like the attendees had a right to feel ‘ripped-off’ somehow. The ‘Sharona’ endeavor didn’t take place until after a nearly full-length set of Atlas Sound songs. In Cox’s own words, “They got the full fucking set of emotional fucking sincere whiny white people music. And then they got fucking ‘My Sharona’ as interpreted by Faust. It was like a death trance.”

In short, it’s unclear to me what people have to complain about regarding this show. There have been plenty of accusations of pretension, obnoxiousness and even insanity thrown about both implicitly (the news stories) and explicitly (the comments sections to all of those news stories) over the past day. And you know what? They’re all bullshit. I commend Bradford Cox on pulling off something so genuinely unexpected and exciting. I only wish I could’ve witnessed the whole thing firsthand. I’m positive the shaky YouTube footage doesn’t do it justice.

Atlas Sound will be at the Paradise in Boston tonight, so be on the lookout for a review which probably won’t have anything quite so exciting to report.