March 12, 2017
Putting a powerhouse instrumental group like This Will Destroy You together with a whirlwind of noise like Deafheaven is a sure way to guarantee a night of ringing eardrums and some salty tears. The Underground hosted both acts along with Emma Ruth Rundle on Friday night, slinging the crowd through the emotional gamut from a near out-of-body experience to complete blind fury. Emma Ruth Rundle opened up the show with what can only be described as a haunting beauty, showcasing her shuddering, alluring voice out in front of a band that has made exceptional use of the immortal words “less is more.” Rundle’s voice is given a brilliant spotlight by the sparse, hollow instrumentation before being engulfed in the crushing swells that appear throughout the set. Rundle’s sound can bring any audience out of their shell into the foggy haze that their music brings to the forefront of the evening.
By the time This Will Destroy You took the stage, a restless energy could be felt throughout the room. It didn’t seem to matter if it was someone’s first time seeing the group or their hundredth, the looks of excited anxiety were painted over everybody’s faces. This Will Destroy You captures a sense of calm that washes over the audience, drawing them into a total harmony with one another, even as the music ascends from graceful, dream-inducing verses into an explosive chaos. Possibly the most impressive aspect of the evening, the demonstration of their masterful grasp on discord sets them apart from similar acts. No matter how turbulent the crescendos became throughout the set, the audience seemed to remain in a strange, trance-like unity, both amongst themselves and with the band. The group’s balance of order and disarray never slips the realm of control; a control that This Will Destroy You had shown they possess in spades. After a tumultuous and incredibly emotional set filled with symphonic beauty and a presence that over saturates the senses, the band left very few dry eyes behind.
Reflecting the chaotic nature of the previous band, Deafheaven took full grip of the exasperation felt throughout the crowd and turned it into a growing rage. It would seem that this tour package only grows more furious as the night goes on, translating the ethereal drone of Rundle and the trained discipline of This Will Destroy You into an unrelenting onslaught of sound. Vocalist George Clarke’s shrieking lyrics overlap guitarists Kerry McCoy and Shiv Mehra as they rip through song after song, defining stamina as it’s never been defined, all before coming to a screeching halt with a sharp contrast of melody within the dissonance. Deafheaven’s debut full length, Sunbather rewrote expectations on what a “black metal” band is supposed to sound like, incorporating elements of shoegaze and reaching well into the world of electronic music. This ingenuity is not lost on a live performance, transferring perfectly to the stage as it does to the speaker. The group’s latest record New Bermuda employs a more aggressive sound, leaving behind some of the more genre-defying elements present on the previous record. Nonetheless, their ability to perform recorded material is impeccable, most notably, drummer Daniel Tracy’s flawless execution throughout the set. Deafheaven is unbridled emotion in every sense of the word, leaving any audience floored.
In short, this show got loud. Very loud. Any and all of these different bands are well-worth the listen and the time to see them live.