Deafheaven March 29, LVCS
When was the last time you went to a concert and never once took your phone out? Not to take a photo of the band, not to peek at the time, not to check your missed calls. That happened to me Saturday night, and not because I made some special effort. My brain and being were otherwise occupied, totally and completely, throughout Deafheaven’s performance at LVCS.
The San Francisco five-piece makes music that has been hotly debated for its official black metal-ness. I say who cares. Last year’s sophomore album, Sunbather, makes for a sublime experience, whether you normally spin Mayhem or Curtis Mayfield. Live, it doesn’t just wash over you; it fills you with sound—at once heavy and peaceful and intense and triumphant.
Vocals? Deaheaven has them, though the sounds coming from George Clarke’s mouth were less words being sung than violent eruptions, streaming over the shimmering guitars and pulsating drums around him. And just when it felt like the band couldn’t lock into grooves more mesmerizing, songs would shift—as when “Dream House” burst from its breakdown, or for the final stretch of “The Pecan Tree”—and ascend to realms that briefly affirmed life itself.
The crowd should have been bigger, both to expand the room’s energy and reward the night’s promoter for his vision (a clash with the day’s Extreme Thing festival probably hurt the turnout). The openers could have better matched the headliner (locals Caravels or Alaska might have made more sense than Vegas doom quintet Demon Lung, and touring act Deconstruction Unit was mostly just loud). And Deafheaven’s set felt short at 45 minutes—four lengthy pieces, without an encore.
Or maybe that’s exactly the right amount. Urgency can’t be extended indefinitely, after all. As it was, I didn’t spot a single soul shift attention from the stage, even for an instant. I wonder if the bartenders sold any drinks while Deafheaven was on. And how many texts went unanswered.