Deafheaven at Triple Rock Social Club, 6/23/14
|Photo by Tahiel Jimenez|
Last night to a sold-out crowd at the Triple Rock, black metal outfit Deafheaven provided definitive reasoning for Minneapolis's recently instated earplugs ordinance.
The five-piece band hailing from San Francisco is widely recognized for its ear-shattering sound, led by the animal-like shrieking of vocalist George Clarke. True to form, the show was at a decibel level that put all of the glass in the venue at risk.
Wreck and Reference, also from California, opened the night. Its two members were dwarfed by stacks of amplifiers crowding the stage. The songs were marked by the tortured wailing of various electronic elements, like a demented brother of early CocoRosie. A laptop hid within a guitar case on stage offered samples to offset the unsettling loudness of ringing guitar notes and vocalist Felix Skinner's deep, scornful voice. Combined with Ignat Frege's drumming, W&R moved effectively from loud to soft, expertly juxtaposing elements of chaos and control.
Pallbearer took the stage next under dim lighting, implying the illusion of intimacy even in such a crowded and fairly sprawling venue. The thickened audience responded enthusiastically to the four-piece's zombie-like movements, as they manipulated their instruments to keep the tension slowly mounting in a patient crawl toward catharsis -- only to disintegrate yet again back into cautious foreboding. Bodies thrashing and twitching, Pallbearer churned out a carefully constructed metal sludge that moved sluggishly yet menacingly. The music was strangely hypnotic, luring the listener in with slight repetitions of chord patterns, creating a sense of familiarity that led directly into irresistibly catchy hooks. Their playing, taut and controlled, conjured emotions ranging from frenzied and panicked to triumphant.
Later in their set, the mood became somewhat more melancholic and the music began to set a reflective tone. Frontman Brett Campbell's low, booming voice complemented the fury of instrumentation nicely, although it is possible that it was difficult for him to hear himself over the wall of sound being constructed by the rest of the band. The strategically placed vocals did not translate very well from their recordings to this live performance.
The last few songs had a cinematic feel to them, each one an intricate composition of complicated structure. Sometimes, doom metal can have a difficult time holding the attention of audience members in a live setting, especially when songs hover around ten minutes long. In this case, though, the crowd remained engaged. At the end of Pallbearer's set, people clapped and whistled appreciatively, holding their metal fingers in the air.
|Photo by Tahiel Jimenez|
After just a brief intermission, the moment had arrived: Deafheaven. Vocalist George Clarke, dressed in head to toe black like the rest of the band, stood eerily illuminated by dull stage lights behind his mic stand. He leaned menacingly over the audience, mirroring drummer Daniel Tracy's playing with abrupt arm movements and pausing often to tilt his chin upwards, eyes closed, bathed in light. There was no definitive break in between songs; short, beautiful interludes filled in the empty spaces.