Brooklyn’s own kings of the modern shoegaze scene called DIIV, came back to NYC for an epic show at Webster Hall to whip veteran fans and juvenile fanatics alike into a heavenly frenzy. This show was exceptionally exciting as the obvious intent this time through their home territory was to showcase material from their upcoming second album Is the Is Are, which isn’t scheduled to be released until February of next year, but since their first LP, the epic classic Oshin was released way, way back in 2012, the excitement for a new disc was and is understandably electric.
Opening the show was a breathtaking trio by the name of Sunflower Bean, who I saw open for DIIV’s last local show at the far more intimate Baby’s All Right, but I’ve already learned that every time you experience them live it is like being bewitched by your first magical spell all over again, and then getting repeatedly smacked over the head by angels and sporadically kicked in the balls by demons. Seriously though, this local trio is really something special, as their wildly unpredictable time changes can throw you off the rocket car in a split second at breakneck speeds, while their guitar solos can melt your rock n’ roll heart, and their harmonies can somehow be both angelic and demonic at the same time; all played with volume, intensity, and creativity that brands a really impressive rock band. I can totally see vocalist and bassist Julia Cumming, vocalist and guitarist Nick Kivlen, and drummer Jacob Faber really blow up big someday soon, much as they blow my mind every time I hear them.
Next up was No Joy, a group of Canadian rockers I first saw in a small bar in Denver a few years back and many times since. While they can also be considered shoegaze, their sound is far more based in the 90’s darker sludge of noisier and grungier garage rock, and certainly producing a much different gazing than either of the two other bands of the night. Built off the duel high-octane axe players Jasamine White-Gluz and Laura Lloyd, they keep the volume high and the antics at a low, with rather surreal sound effects between songs while the band tunes up for the next rocker packed full of luridly fuzzy guitars and catchy choruses. Their newly released third LP More Faithful has shown some impressive growth in the direction of my favorite classic shoegazers of the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain, which has certainly always worked for my music-gasms.
So, it has been a long few years since DIIV first blew onto the scene with their debut album Oshin, building off a side, then full solo project of then gazing upcomers Beach Fossils guitarist Zachary Cole Smith. Soon after DIIV became a monster success with a disc that is still the standard-bearer of the entire modern dream-pop/shoegaze scene, and it is undoubtedly an extremely hard thing to come out and try to top such a huge debut success. However, the time since has certainly been a growth experience for all involved, all of them experiencing their share of hiccups on the way to creative nirvana; like frontman and duel guitar entangler Andrew Bailey has now seemingly gotten past his arrest a while back on drug charges while in upstate NY, something that may very well have delayed the progress on a new album. Their original drummer Colby Hewitt is no longer in the band as of this spring due to his drug addictions, and bassist Devin Ruben Perez had some 4Chan users pissed over some comments he made recdently. Now it is clear that they are now all really centered and ready to go forth into the next stage of their career.
Set to the back drop of some quirky projected home and relatively simple lighting and armed with their trademark angelic 80’s Cure-like jangling guitar twistings and otherworldly angelic harmonies, they managed to float through at least five or so new cuts during their set along with well-known sing-along tracks from their previous disc like “How Long Have You Known” and “Wait.” Both of which had the whole packed floor erupting into an insane mosh pit of mostly juvenile exuberance, but also embellishing on mellower transcendental moments like on a couple of the newer, slower tracks that dreamily mystified our palates and generally lulled us into loving them even more. Sure, they’ve been playing much of this new material for the last couple years, but even the newest tracks are sounding even more mature and developed than before, and it’s clear that they will finally have an album that can rival it’s predecessor, if we can hold on to our mother-lovin’ minds waiting a few more months for it to finally get in our hands and ear drums.
The encore was a true shock to everyone, even their diehard fans, as they came out in a rare display of absurd wackiness. Dressed as characters from the Wizard of Oz, Bailey of course being Dorthy even doing a little acapella “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” for openers, soon joined by more dragged out witches and princesses on stage than you could find in the village only a couple blocks away. I’m not certain as to why they decided to do this, perhaps they just had Halloween costumes still hanging around, or maybe it is another wild change for their dreamy onstage presence. Regardless, for a band that is known for being a somewhat introverted group on stage, it was a moment of pure bliss for their fans that got to witness it.
Article: Dean Keim