Last Thursday, I headed down to The Rickshaw in Vancouver to witness two major firsts for the Vancouver music scene – Deafheaven’s first Vancouver show, and Sumac’s first show, period. I got there early to catch the opener, Balance, and already the venue was filling up. Vancouverites generally like to drink heavily before leaving the house and arrive late, so it was good to see that Balance had a healthy draw. They infected the crowd with their energy, brutalizing their instruments and giving the crowd some hardcore to pound beers to.
Next up was SUMAC, probably tying with Deafheaven for most anticipated act of the night. And this powerful trio of Vancouver’s most beloved drummer Nick Yacyshyn, Aaron Turner and Brian Cook didn’t disappoint the crowd that packed tightly in. Nick told me later that not only was this Sumac’s first show, it was their third jam, and I was blown away, because the atmosphere they cultivated during their set was all-encompassing. Walls of sound washed over the mesmerized crowd, Turner’s growling vocals tearing into the reverie as Cook’s basslines took over our bodies’ natural rhythms. Yacyshyn’s drumming was no less intense than his work with Baptists, but less furious and more melodic. Sumac’s sound is dissonance made harmonious, and I am really looking forward to the future of this band.
Then DEAFHEAVEN entered the room, and the cult of George surged to the front of the stage. It was my first time seeing them, besides in the many photo essays we’ve posted on CVLT Nation. Although the band itself is responsible for the beautiful, harsh, shoe-gazey world Deafheaven brings you into, when George enters the room and beckons to the audience, it’s like a magnet pulling on iron filings – people flying from all over the room to center stage as he looms over them like a black metal Morrissey. Elbowing through the packed photo pit, at one point I thought we may all be crushed to the stage by the thrashing floor. Their performance was enthralling, and left me with a better understanding of the music they create, and it’s effect on their audience.