Concert Review: Deafheaven

LVCS, March 29

Photo by Glenn Brogan

Ever had your eardrums blown to excruciating nirvana? I have, thanks to San Francisco “blackgaze” (black metal-cum-shoegaze) quintet Deafheaven. The band performed (if you don’t count the instrumentals) four songs, each running around the 10-minute mark, but the cumulative impact was like standing beneath a looming sword of Damocles. I waited for guitarist Kerry McCoy’s beautifully cresting single-note runs to opiatize me. I waited for singer George Clarke’s banshee-rasps to tear me asunder. It never quite happened and didn’t need to; the suggestion of peril was enough. Opening number “Dream House” set the crowd ablaze, especially after Deafheaven constructed a soft, dreamy interlude before unleashing the torrential, triumphant outro-stomp. Another highlight was gale-force “The Pecan Tree,” McCoy using octave-riffs to hallucinatory effect, even as dark-clad Clarke eerily pranced and preened onstage like Ian Curtis emerging from the underworld’s gloam. Deafheaven offered something far better than a numbed afterlife. The band offered a ride to Valhalla and back on blast-beaten, shriek-laden waves of sound. I’m at once grateful and distressed for such a rare, privileged experience. ★★★★✩

Photos by Glenn Brogan

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