Witness DEAFHEAVEN Howling for the Wilderness in Brooklyn
Text & Photos: Charles Nickles
On paper, I thought this gig was perfect.
The idyllic place for weirdos to converge in homage to the inspirational diaspora of braying concrete and maybe it was or mostly it was or yeah, it totally was and while most folks who stumbled out of Brooklyn Steel tonight looked enlightened or enlivened or just the right side of HOORAY! drunk there was a surprising bit of confused and/or frustration that punctuated every band’s set some of which I’m including in this here ramble to preface my own inchoate impressions because people are fucking funny and I’d like to think every band on this bill would take some small delight in knowing that, despite all their accomplished accolades, they still find ways to piss people off.
“I used to like Uniform but now, I don’t know, they’re too punk.”
“Is it the drummer?”
“Yeah. I know he’s from Liturgy and that’s cool or whatever but it’s just not the same. They were better when they were an industrial band.”
“Yeah, man. Humans ruin everything.”
Listen, I bet it was a total headfuck to see Uniform play Home Sweet Home some random Tuesday at 1am all synthesized crashing, guitar wonk and pale-faced apoplectics in the cramped noir wonder of a pithy, privileged shit-faced but those days are dead, kid and – yes – Uniform were a decidedly more ominous glue trip in the monochromatic rage of their earlier days but a good drummer is a hard-earned luxury that can shore a band up from the tar dream into a playing the biggest goddamn stage I’ve seen in a minute.
And they fucking own it, man, which I guess is no surprise.
Their live violence has always been a master class in a manic theatrics which works a distinctly domestic terror angle when Michael Berdan is spitting invectives mere inches from your face but with space it borders on the hard-spiral rock star damnation.
“What are they supposed to be, spacemen?”
“I guess they’re kinda goth.”
“So what, spacegoth? What the fuck is spacegoth?”
People fucking love Drab Majesty and it’s easy to understand why. Their sexless esoteric presentation and glam gloom croon exemplify the profound exhaustion of this bright, lumbering century.
And though the older I get the more I understand that the eloquent shimmer of first-world ennui might never have been my thing and maybe I only really ever bought into the pale dowry because black is slimming and death is sexy I feel confident in saying that Drab Majesty are fucking great at what they do. They may even be the best. And that’s not just because they’re the ONLY game in town when it comes to somber extraterrestrial androgynous aesthetics but because their deadpan presentation of a cryptic (albeit occasionally grooveable) clarion call is obtuse as fuck and totally spot on balm for the no ones.
Hell, watching them tonight reminded me of nothing so much as the Queen Bitch, himself if Ziggy’d played the Nord instead of a guitar and the Spiders were still shivering in half sleep under the icescapes of Mars and cocaine had taken a backseat to ether and The Man Who Fell to Earth was a…huh, I really don’t remember that film well enough to provide a thoughtful antithetical but whatever. Point is, in the shaded eyes of Deb, we’re all rock and roll suicides.
“I mean, what kind of metal band has a Sunflower on their drum kit?”
“I don’t know. Bees are pretty metal, though.”
I LOVE that Deafheaven are still contentious. Shit, when I was in Texas they were as gabbed about as AnB or YOB but whereas those bands got ALL the fucking accolades (duh) the boys from the Bay were either fervently reviled or adored with a number of intoxicated caveats:
“They’re not true metal, but Sunbather is the shit.”
“George Clarke can suck my dick but it’d still be cool to meet him.”
“I know I shouldn’t like them, but I do.”
I heard that last one a LOT.
And I don’t know if it’s the fact that Deafheaven play with genres that welcome clean production and melody or the fact that, five years ago, they made a record that espoused the rabid hiss of black metal on a post-rock loveseat wholly bereft of any Xerox pedigree which became one of the most transcendent and praised albums of the decade but folks are still pissed and that’s HIGH-LARIOUS because Deafheaven has never been about that inky corpse-love bullshit.
Though dimmer in their early days, they’ve always been pretty pretty.
And now, they’re just owning their beatific eclipse.
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love hits all the noisome cross-pollinated hallmarks that made Deafheaven THE fucking thing but welcomes elements of patience and good old rock and fuckin roll and, on stage, the new songs resound with the domesticated fury of a blind fox howling out in homage for the wilderness that bade him to run.
Yes, there is paisley posture.
Yes, there is tambourine.
But at the heart of tonight’s set there is band ripping shit up with the godless force of human nature, sweating and screeching a postmodern anathema to the ratted safety of the tall, dark and decidedly played patriarchy.
And it’s fucking magnificent.
DEAFHEAVEN TOUR DATES:
Currently with Drab Majesty & Uniform
AUG 08 Boise, ID @ Neurolux
AUG 10 Seattle, WA @ The Neptune Theatre
AUG 11 Vancouver, BC @ The Imperial
AUG 12 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
AUG 14 San Francisco, CA @ August Hall – SOLD OUT
AUG 15 Sacramento, CA @ Goldfield Trading Post
AUG 17 San Diego, CA @ Brick By Brick – SOLD OUT
AUG 18 Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern
All European Dates with INTER ARMA
SEP 13 Warsaw, PL @ Hybrydy
SEP 14 Poznan, PL @ U Bazyla
SEP 15 Dresden, DE @ Beatpol
SEP 17 Gothenburg, SE @ Pustervik
SEP 18 Oslo, NO @ Rockefeller
SEP 19 Stockholm, SE @ Kraken
SEP 20 Copenhagen, DK @ Vega
SEP 22 Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
SEP 23 Esch Alzette, LU @ Rockhal
SEP 25 Antwerp, BE @ Trix
SEP 26 Koln, DE @ Essigfabrik
SEP 27 Berlin, DE @ Bi Nuu
SEP 28 Karlsruhe, DE @ Jubez
SEP 30 Bristol, UK @ The Fleece
OCT 01 Manchester, UK @ Gorilla
OCT 02 Glasgow, UK @ Classic Grand
OCT 03 Leeds, UK @ Stylus
OCT 05 London, UK @ ULU
OCT 06 Nijmegen, NL @ Soulcrusher Festival
OCT 07 Paris, FR @ La Maroquinerie
OCT 09 Munich, DE @ Feierwerk
OCT 10 Winterthur, CH @ Salzhaus
OCT 11 Milan, IT @ Legend
OCT 12 Bologna, IT @ TPO
OCT 13 Zagreb, HR @ Mochvara
OCT 14 Vienna, AT @ Arena
All shows below with DIIV
OCT 20 Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
OCT 21 Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
OCT 22 El Paso, TX @ Low Brow Palace
OCT 23 San Antonio, TX @ Paper Tiger
OCT 25 Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall
OCT 26 Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Club
OCT 27 Asheville, NC @ The Grey Eagle Tavern & Music Hall
OCT 28 Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge
OCT 30 Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Sound Stage
OCT 31 Jersey City, NJ @ White Eagle Hall
NOV 01 Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace
NOV 02 Providence, RI @ Fête Ballroom
NOV 03 Ithaca, NY @ The Haunt
NOV 04 Pittsburgh, PA @ Spirit
NOV 06 Cleveland Heights, OH @ Grog Shop
NOV 07 Cincinnati, OH @ The Ballroom at the Taft Theatre
NOV 09 Champaign, IL @ Canopy Club
NOV 10 Grand Rapids, MI @ The Pyramid Scheme
NOV 11 Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
NOV 13 Colorado Springs, CO @ The Black Sheep
NOV 15 Reno, NV @ Jub Jub’s
NOV 16 Fresno, CA @ Strummer’s
NOV 17 Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst