Hailing from San Francisco, California of USA, Deafheaven played a crushingly tight cacophony of blisteringly music that has been recently minted as a new offshoot genre called “Post-Black Metal” or even “Blackgaze”.
I witnessed a literal and live translation of their intense music onto the arena over at Beep Studios last Saturday evening, organised by KittyWu Records.
Although I only had just been introduced to this band and this is the first time I attended a band’s concert before actually owning any of their records (which is still enroute from Amazon as I type), I exited the intimate settings of the gig venue thoroughly satisfied and convinced of my last minute decision to attend this said gig.
Why thoroughly satisfied? Deafheaven treated us to the whole live experience of their latest sophomore studio effort – Sunbather. Dream House exploded on the get-go, relentless and loud. The warm wall of sound instantaneously engulfed the intimate venue and the 200-300 strong audience. Speaking of the audience, this must be the first time I’ve seen such diversity amongst the crowd with easily half of them indie kids and a good amount of Caucasian expats.
Frontman George Clarke’s energetic stage behaviourism was admirable and infectious, repeatedly edging towards the front row audience with his microphone, sharing the vocal space with the crowd. Dream House led on to a respite interval of brief solace with Irresistible. I say “brief” because the heavy-hitting songs of Deafheaven’s usually spans comfortably around the 10 minute mark.
The title track of the album – Sunbather followed suit. From my short encounter with their material, this song rapidly became my favourite of theirs. What struck me most impressively was how they are able to replicate the crushing ambience of their studio recordings very well onstage. I think partially to thank was the excellent sound system over at Beep Studios which handled this genre of sound just right. Sunbather ravages on, pushing the wall of sound even denser, then finally relented to a parse of melodic guitarwork by Kerry McCoy, as if allowing us a moment to breathe, before finishing us off.
Please Remember is a recording played in the style of backmasking with spoken word segment done by Stephane Paut “Neige” of Alcest fame on George Clarke’s favourite quotation from Milan Kundera’s novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”. Which happens to be one of my favourite novels too, haha.
Vertigo resumed the battery of the night in a slow but sure steady manner, the guitars, drums and bass cascading onwards to a collective mass before Clarke’s black metal shrieks joined in the full madness. Clarke mentioned his vocal style was inspired by Emperor’s Ihsahn’s style, especially from In The Nightside Eclipse album. It is mildly amusing to note that indie kids who probably have zero inkling about the genre of “Black Metal” are actually enjoying this… Anyhow! Vertigo belted out a colossal duration of 14 minute and half of Deafheaven-esque goodness. George Clarke’s bountiful supply of energy was evident once more as he bodysurfed himself out onto the sea of audience’s hands as he continued the onslaught.
The band and audience were again given a moment of recollection with the interlude of Windows as per the album tracklisting, before yet another barrage of a swansong – The Pecan Tree plagued the ears of the audience in similar crushing fashion. The band clearly knew this wasn’t quite finished for the night, and returned onstage for an encore with a song from their debut album Roads to Judah – Unrequited. The crowded was treated to the final assault of aural chaos from Deafheaven, fully satiated but with the incessant ringing of the eardrums, in a good way though!
It was a Saturday well spent.
Thank you, Deafheaven! Thank you, KittyWu Records!