Deafheaven @ Sticky Mikes, Brighton 29/10/13

Posted: 31/10/2013 in Live Review
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Deafheaven – Brighton Sticky Mikes 29/10/13

Last time I saw Deafheaven I had never heard of them, and was very ill.  They were supporting Kylesa and I wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t already bought the ticket.  It was not a forgiving night for mediocre support.  As it happens they were magnificent.  They shuffled on looking very non-plussed and not terribly metal, and played some ok post-rock of the Mogwai sort.  But when it got heavy…  it truly absorbed everything.  Illness, the crowd, nothing had impact anymore and all you could consider was Deafheaven.  One of the best gigs I have ever seen.

Can they repeat that tonight?

Finding suitable support isn’t all that simple.  Hardly anyone makes ‘black-gaze’ and Brighton isn’t know for it’s metal unfortunately.  It was clearly not Moodhoover’s night.  Lots of technical problems and their bass player couldn’t make it.  They soldiered on though… or so it seemed.  Actually, they don’t have one.  Techy doom with deathy overtones and no bass?  That is never ever going to work, and it didn’t.  Having said that, the giant spazz-out of the last song was pretty impressive.  But without that gurning low-end everything just sounds like a long intro.

What Shrine lack in original band names or similarity to the headliners they more than make up for in sheer bewildering inventiveness.  Part stoner-rock, part curmudgeoning math.  They do the melodic sass meets doom of Torche with the considered tightness of Shellac.  Bursting with angry energy, yet they look like such nice young men? Except perhaps that their singer looks like Mark ‘Chopper’ Read; who’s now dead; mental.

Deafheaven come on, line-check, get off the stage, start the intro music, then walk back on again.  Grand opening gestures like this don’t really work if the audience has seen you.  On the next tour with bigger venues it will be amazing.  And there will be bigger venues, because tonight they are on it.

Frontman George Clarke is a frightening prospect: like a displaced Gestapo interrogator with a thousand yard stare.  He creates a strange counterpoint to the at times uplifting and oddly pretty music.  Which is why tonight is so special.  You get so much from the band.  It runs the full emotional gamut – yet always intense.  How often do you get to experience actual euphoria in a room full of Darkthrone t-shirts?

Sadly because of draconian curfew rules we don’t get the encore as planned.  Which means the set missed out completely anything from ’11s excellent Roads To Judah.

It seems almost a formality now that they will be top of countless end of year lists with Sunbather, and frankly, they deserve it.

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