When it comes to a Deafheaven show, there a few things you can be absolutely sure of. For one, they are going to bring a dope — if not curious — collection of artists on the road with them. Secondly, their performance will exhaust all your energy, regardless of your positioning in the crowd. And finally, the passion and quality of their performance will never, ever, leave you disappointed. Such was the case at the Boston date of this most recent tour with Drab Majesty and Uniform. In fact, out of all the Deafheaven shows I’ve taken in, this one very well may have been the most impressive.
This particular show was at Boston’s Royale nightclub, an elaborate and ornate venue that suits Deafheaven/this lineup/Ordinary Corrupt Human Love absolutely perfectly. The Royale is a venue that I have frequented for years and on most nights they have a healthy sized photo pit set up with a fairly organized system associated with it. On this night, however, that was not the case. Which was a good and bad thing I suppose… a big part of a Deafheaven show is the crowd involvement, but on the flip side taking pictures would prove to be a bit more of an adventure. Soooo, net: positive. Who am I kidding? I was all about the lack of a barrier. Anyway, music stuff.
The night kicked off with New York City’s Uniform. They offered a bit of a subgenre-blending take on hardcore that had a healthy industrial edge to it and brought a ton of energy. It’s no mystery that things that fall under the hardcore or punk umbrellas are generally not my thing, but there was something about this set that I thoroughly appreciated. They made great use of their allotted time with strong, abrasive riffage and fierce, barking vocals that immediately increased the intensity of the evening. Which is interesting when you consider the subsequent set…
I’ve seen Deafheaven with Carcass, Emma Ruth Rundle, This Will Destroy You, Tribulation… the list goes on and on. But Drab Majesty might be the most interesting yet. Interesting in a very, very good way. Paying homage to 80s new wave with a style referred to as “tragic wave,” the sound and performance was exactly that. The way the dim blue light washed over the deliberate movements of Deb DeMure and Mona D as the guitar reverb, droning synth, and enchanting vocals echoed around this elaborate venue made for a visual setting that I had never experienced. And definitely never expected. This set, which immediately preceded Deafheaven, made absolutely no sense… but also made all the sense in the world. Hard to explain. Either way, I’ve been going back to The Demonstration almost daily since that performance. In terms of ranking “My Favorite Bands That Decided To Tour With Deafheaven” that I will never actually put together, this one is right up there.
And then Deafheaven. What can I even say at this point? As they continue to push their unique boundaries with their music, their live performances continue to get better and better. After seeing New Bermuda performed live about half a dozen times with its beautiful grit and intensity, I was curious how the more, um, soothing(?) tracks of OCHL would translate alongside them. Quite well, apparently. As always, there wasn’t a single thing about this set that was lacking… the sound, the energy, the crowd involvement… you name it. They played for well over an hour, and therefore managed to squeeze in about four tracks, which was great. Kidding, obviously, but only slightly. So not obviously? Regardless, we indeed got a healthy dose of the new record. These tracks were performed with brilliance and a different kind of fire that significantly increased my love of their latest effort. But of course, we were also treated with the title-track from Sunbather, Brought To The Water, and From The Kettle Unto The Coil, among others. And with each passing track, the band and audience increased in energy together, feeding off of each other’s intensity, eventually building up to the eruption that was the closing “Dream House.” I can’t remember the last time I saw them close with anything else, or if they ever have. Quite frankly, it’s the one part of their performance I hope they never change. It’s just too perfect. The culmination of all the diverse energy that greeted us before it, completely draining us of any remaining energy we had. It’s a song that you absolutely feel when it’s played before you.
I’ll wrap up here before wordgasming any further. In summary, this show was awesome. There are a few dates left (through this week I believe?), so if you have been on the fence about getting to this one, I highly encourage you do so. If they’ve already been through your area and you managed to catch them, you know what I’m talking about. And if they’ve been through your area and you blew it… well, you blew it.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”