Deafheaven @ Whelan’s

After everything that has been written over last year about Deafheaven, one thing seems clear; they polarise like no other. It really does seem a case of love or hate, with the Miami five piece, originally the brain child of duo George Clark and Kerry McCoy. Like most bands who receive an exceptional level of critical acclaim from basically out of the blue, there are going to be critics who use the term “hype band” or whatever, but an almost full Whelan’s doesn’t exactly scream “hype”. Surely if the band existed on hype alone they’d be filling a bigger venue with casual posers and curious music savvy boffins? But an almost full Whelan’s was the last stop of their European tour, and the last of three Irish dates. Before a note was played, the band themselves came out to set up, briefly line-check, before disappearing backstage, McCoy signalling for their ambient intro music to play for a few minutes before they strolled back out to a ripple of applause. The intro to album opener “Dreamhouse” built, Clark assuming position at the front of crowd, regally waving and pointing at nobody in particular. It must be said, the adoration for this front man from awkward, late teen guys verges on messianic; hands reach out and touch his arms, clothes, pat his shoulders. Shitty “pop-punk” or emo bands pedal discontent to teens with ease because isn’t that the human condition at that age? The reason so many average music fans who maybe wouldn’t indulge in the more extreme side of it find themselves connecting to Deafheaven is because they feel the loss, the sadness, the futility at times. Simply put; there IS a worthwhile and very human narrative in these sheets of noise, blastbeats, screams and lush guitar breakdowns.  Dreamhouse SHOULD have torn the roof off but thanks to a faulty microphone, the vocals spluttered in and out. And that previous sentence is basically the only negative thing you’ll read here. Honestly, the peaks of the title track; Sunbather, the 5 minute intro to Vertigo, the bruising new song; From The Kettle Onto The Coil, the end of The Pecan Tree.. there were literally too many moments of sheer brilliance. Some moments from music stay with you forever. If you close your eyes, you can see them clear as day and smell the stale air, the warm beer, the person standing next to you. The end of Pecan Tree is one of them; I am my fathers son, I am no-one, I cannot love, it’s in my blood. It seemed endless, timeless, and projected with such power that it was hard to ignore the desperation and defeat in the sentiment. The euphoria was clear for all to see at points, this is a band that inspire the sort of breath taking moments of both clarity and escapism that are usually reserved for soundtrack-esque post rock of bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, or Mogwai. There were a bunch of kids, probably no more than about 19, in the smoking section, talking about how Kerry only had three guitars, and the amps he uses, and how certain lyrics would “stay with you forever”. I turned to the person I was with and grinned; they were me when I was that age, shit, they were me now! This was their Arctic Monkeys. And you know what? It was mine too.

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