5 of My Favorite Deck the Hall Ball Performances

As someone working the event, it's tough to see much music!

October 8, 2018

by Mat Hayward


Supported by SitckerYou.com

As a radio professional - sounds so fancy - there's surprisingly a problem with having massive shows with tons of bands and a great crowd coming together to make cultural magic: I am at work! The list of bands that have played Deck The Hall Ball in the past is equal parts incredible and sickening - sickening because I only see these bands play for maybe one song per set. This is my 10th DTHB. My mind is blown.

I went through old posters to remember the best sets I've heard at Deck:

M83 "Mightnight City" 2012
We were backstage waiting to come on after M83 to say our thank yous, watch a banana and a Jesus hug it out on stage, and welcome on the Killers, when the saxophonist for M83 started warming up with some scales and then the part he was actually set to play. Fun fact: watching bands from the side stage sounds like it's cool, and it is, but it sounds terrible because you're not hearing the main mixed PA speakers blasting. This was one of those times, a literal peak behind the curtain where he warmed up then appeared on stage, nailed his saxophone piece, and was met with the roar of a crowd losing its mind.

Cage The Elephant 2011
I have no idea what song they were even playing, I just happen to have a second to pop into the show right as Matt jumped from the stage wired microphone pulled to its limit. I'm not sure I've ever seen a more cliche rock n roll moment as he just let the crowd carry him around with his head drooped back like he had no care in the world. I can only imagine the number of fans he made that day just by giving himself over. He's done this every time I've seen him since, but none ever felt as special as this time.

Phoenix "Lisztomania" 2013
On the floor of Key Arena, in an area just off to the side, the other artists will pop over and watch bands they're interested in without having to join the main audience. It gives 'em a chance to enjoy themselves without having to be in professional musician mode. It's quite nice. In 2013, Phoenix rejoined Vampire Weekend in Seattle to play DTHB again. There was also a 16yo teenager on the bill, Lorde. She couldn't have been sweeter, friendlier, or more excited to be at an arena concert. When Phoenix tore into "Lisztomania" I suddenly noticed next to me the floofy curls of a bouncing Lorde losing her mind like any teenager seeing a massive band from side stage!


Arctic Monkeys "Arabella" 2013
I made sure to hover near the arena entrance once Arctic Monkeys took to the stage. They had released my favorite song of 20-whatever (2013?) and if they indeed played "Arabella", I was not going to miss it. That song has the best transitions and I am not sure that Arctic Monkeys will ever be tighter than they were then at the top of their then success.

Twenty One Pilots 2015
This is one of the few bands I ignored my responsibility and just gave in to their magic, and acrobatics, and drumset crowd surfing! Towards the end of their show-stealing set, suddenly singer Tyler Joseph disappears and reappears up in the stands just above the stage. With a ninja-like quickness, he again disappears to reappear at the back of the room near the soundboard. Boom - spotlighted. Then he's bounding over the gate, and rapidly running to the stage to finish up. That's when he ran into a slow moving tree of a man frozen by the situation. Joseph does his best Barry Sanders - a real footwork guy - to juke one way then cut back the opposite getting around tree-man just as the crowd starts to swarm. Trapped, he sees some railing and without missing a beat, he springs over the rail and then again back onto the stage. That tree was me and I swear I heard the springing sound of Super Mario as he lept to safety.

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