w/ Drab Majesty
August 10, 2018
I saw Deafheaven back in 2015 for the first time and aside from being blown away by their performance, I strongly remember a string of weird bands playing before they went on. Weird in the sense that it all sounded like loud, garbled noise to me—and as someone that tries to see the positive in almost all music I felt like a grandpa shaking his head about how times have changed and in the old days this type of music would have been ridiculed. That being said my hopes weren't high for the opening band Drab Majesty, but after seeing them live I can totally see why they're touring with Deafheaven. Their whole performance was like a fog-infused LSD trip, not that I've ever done LSD, but watching Drab Majesty is what I'd imagine it'd be like. The synth, darkwave sounds mixed with their eerie stage presence and outfits really set the mood for their music and I was all about it. It felt like I was in a parallel universe, inside of The Upside Down except no monsters were chasing me. My only criticism is that as their performance went on all the songs started to mush together into one. Although their 70s horror movie vibe was entrancing their songs lacked depth and arches which tended to flatline their music for me. Regardless, Drab Majesty still put on a hell of an interesting show and it was super refreshing to see a new, different band keep me on my toes.
The air was still slightly smoggy from Drab Majesty's set and I was sitting in the photo pit waiting for Deafheaven and it's not so much that I heard the crowd when they came on stage—I felt the crowd. I felt them pushing against the barrier, felt the floor shake beneath me, felt the barrier stool I was crouched down on shaking my whole body and it was incredible. It sounds so cliche but at that moment I felt so alive. They opened with the second track "Honeycomb" off their new album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, which definitely set the tone that they were back and fiercer than ever. Singer George Clarke's signature stage presence had him all over the stage like a tornado dressed in black, while the rest of the band played to their subdued approach but drew you in with the complexity of their instruments. Clarke does these hand gestures that mimic those of an orchestrator of a symphony, which it could be argued that he is indeed the orchestrator of a symphony. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love is playing on a softer side of Deafheaven—which isn't to say it lacks grit or metal, but just that the album has managed to explore depths I didn't even know music was capable of.
The second song played was "Canary Yellow" which a week prior when I first listened to the new album I was instantly drawn to that song. It starts off with such a light, melodic feel which live was accompanied by Clarke's slow almost sexy dancing. Halfway into the song I just stopped taking photos and watched Deafheaven in amazement. Clarke had managed to work up such a sweat that his black, long-sleeved dress shirt was soaked through and the more he moved the more you could see sweat spritz off his body. If I had to describe Clarke's voice it would be what boiling blood sounded like if it had a voice. And when you take that deeply unique and dark voice and pair it with mismatched styles of music perfectly layered together it leaves you speechless. At least it left me speechless. Clocking in at just over 11 minutes, "Canary Yellow" might be one of the most perfect songs I will ever hear live not just based on the perfect execution from the band, but because it's a song that has an endless supply of depth.
They played signature songs like "Sunbather" and "Dream House", which was really great to hear the comparison with their new songs. I still think Sunbather is a hell of an album, but I hear so much growth on Ordinary Corrupt Human Love; it's like just when you thought this band couldn't explore any deeper into their music they went and found a whole new layer. The subtly in the newer songs like "Worthless Animal" definitely didn't take away from their live show because musically it's fascinating as hell and visually Clarke's stage presence is unmatched. Clarke's body movements and voice are his instruments and they can definitely hold their own next to the band's killer guitars and unwavering, perfectly timed drum beats. I've honestly never seen or heard a band like Deafheaven and that's the beauty of them. Go support them. Go be amazed. Go be inspired.