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Deafheaven continue their evolution at The Wiltern

DeafheavenBy Zach Bourque //

Deafheaven with Drab Majesty, Uniform //
The Wiltern – Los Angeles
August 18th, 2018 //

Bay Area black metal genre benders Deafheaven stopped through The Wiltern last Saturday in support of their latest album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. Echoing the band’s newly evolved sound were two unique openers that each brought something fresh to the table.

New York industrial-punk duo Uniform took the stage first, with the band’s striking logo of a crucifix intersected by a sickle serving as its backdrop. If that’s not “goth,” then I don’t know what is. The two-piece act composed of guitarist Ben Greenberg and vocalist Michael Berden belted out fast, energetic punk with an industrial twist. Adding to the overall experience was a live drummer who did his best imitation of a drum machine. What a time to be alive. While the venue was still mostly empty at this point in the night, Uniform undoubtedly made their mark on everyone in attendance with a startling sound that left a mark — even if it wasn’t to everyone’s liking.

Drab Majesty couldn’t have been more of a tone shift from the aggression of Uniform. Donning white face paint and platinum blonde wigs, the LA duo made up by Deb Demure and Mona D filled The Wiltern with a dense, 80’s-inspired new wave sound that remained dark and gothic. Drab Majesty were shrouded by giant flumes of fog throughout most of their set, which fueled an already dream-like atmosphere that felt at once out of place and right at home opening for Deafheaven. Slower tracks like “39 By Design” off their 2017 sophomore LP The Demonstration sounded particularly incredible live with The Wiltern’s high ceiling.

Uniform


Uniform

Few bands have evolved with the confidence of Deafheaven. What began as a twosome consisting of vocalist George Clarke and guitarist Kerry McCoy has grown into a nearly undefinable force in heavy music that has gained popularity and notoriety worldwide. Deafheaven’s second album Sunbather in 2013 made many throughout the black metal community blush with its trademark bright pink cover art and quite a few unorthodox elements sonically, including post-rock ambience and emotional lyricism.

Fortunately, Deafheaven haven’t bowed to convention or criticism. Their fourth studio album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, which ANTI‐ released last month, is their arguably their most experimental to date, spanning more than an hour over seven songs. There’s a sense of angst and nostalgia in the music that leans far more positive and hopeful than their previous work. There are still echoes of black metal at times, but you can feel this is a band that’s embracing its differences instead of defending them.

Seeing Deafheaven live reinforces that notion. While vocalist George Clarke still dresses the part in all black with black gloves, sunflowers were placed carefully all across the stage and home movies played in the background. Clarke himself appeared liberated onstage as he ran around and banged his head with a newfound energy in sharp contrast to his rigid and stoic look from years past.

Drab Majesty


Drab Majesty

A headlining show at The Wiltern is nothing to sneeze at, and this particular one most likely marked Deafheaven’s biggest LA show to date. Fortunately, the venue’s early vacancies were filled by the time Deafheaven stepped onstage. The fans were just as eclectic as the opening acts, with a mixed crowd ranging from goths to hipsters and everyone in between.

Furthermore, it’s hard to call an eight-song setlist short when each song is nearly 10 minutes long. Fortunately, Deafheaven spread the love evenly across their catalog on this night before the quintet capped things off with a monster encore that concluded with fan favorite “Dream House” off Sunbather.

Few artists or bands could pull together to create such a unique lineup like this one, and it was refreshing to see a metal outfit such as Deafheaven take a chance on Drab Majesty and Uniform. It was a gig that had something for everyone, one that stood as a metaphor for the band’s evolution and the scope of its fan base. With an upcoming show at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown on October 19th, Deafheaven won’t be making their Southern California fans wait too much longer for another taste.

DEAFHEAVEN

Setlist:
Honeycomb
Canary Yellow
Sunbather
Brought to the Water
Worthless Animal

Encore:
You Without End
From the Kettle Onto the Coil
Dream House

DRAB MAJESTY

Setlist:
Induction
Dot in the Sky
39 by Design
Kissing the Ground
Not Just a Name
Too Soon to Tell
Cold Souls

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