SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Longtime standard-bearers for the avant-weird fringe of San Francisco’s vibrant indie-rock scene, veteran band Deerhoof plays songs from it’s new collaboration-packed release Mountain Moves at the Great American Music Hall Thursday night.

Formed over two decades ago when drummer Greg Saunier and bassist/guitarist Rob Fisk started collaborating as a freewheeling improvisational duo in 1994. Recording early material with a simple four-track machine, they started churning out singles that touched on everything from grungy punk to abstract noise with an occasional ballad.


The following year marked a seismic change for the band when Tokyo native Satomi Matsuzaki joined Deerhoof shortly after arriving in San Francisco. Despite her complete lack of band experience, the film student would front the group as their singer a week later as Deerhoof toured as the opening for fellow SF experimental heroes Caroliner.

Matsuzaki’s childlike voice and knack for singsong, nursery rhyme-style melodies would become a focal point for the band on their proper debut album The Man the King the Girl in 1997. The band’s instrumentation would shift with the addition of keyboard player Kelly Goode and Matsuzaki picking up bass, with their lo-fi recordings and powerful stage shows building a formidable reputation that led to tours with such cutting edge acts as Sleater-Kinney, Lightning Bolt and Sonic Youth.

By the turn of the millennium, Deerhoof had earned its place as one of the most fearless bands on the indie-rock scene, Bay Area or otherwise. Fisk and Goode departed in 1999, but the addition of guitarist John Dieterich led the group into an ever-widening exploration of electronics and dismantling the pop song form with their often brief tunes (with many landing in the neighborhood of 60-to-90 seconds) on the acclaimed efforts Reveille, Apple O’ and The Runners Four that became some of the most lauded indie-rock albums of the decade.

Despite their tendency to change sounds, languages (2005’s Green Cosmos found Matsuzaki singing in her native tongue) and even who plays what instrument with each successive album, Deerhoof’s trademark gift for playful melodies and sonic reinvention has made their prodigious output of recorded material — not to mention the members’ many side projects and constant collaborative work as players, producers and remixers — one of the more extraordinary bodies of work by a modern rock band.

Their latest release, the brand new Mountain Moves, continues Deerhoof’s remarkable streak of excellence with a recording that mixes the band’s knack for sugary hooks with more outre experimentation. The album featuring wide-ranging collaborators as Argentine folktronica singer Juana Molina, former Stereoloab member and solo artiest Laetitia Sadier, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and noted avant garde saxophonist Matana Roberts. The group plays new tunes and fan favorites from throughout their career at the Great American Thursday night. NYC-based fractured pop project Christina Schneider’s Genius Grant and local rockers Mayya and the Revolutionary Hell Yeah! also perform.

Thursday, Sept. 21, 8 p.m. $18
Great American Music Hall