Set to happen not long after the Don’t Kill Live Music Rally in Sydney, the Deafheaven tour couldn’t have come at any better time. Arriving at Manning Bar, the crowd held a variety of devoted metalheads and indie-minded hipsters, with festival shirts on and tote bags in hand. It’s clear that the band’s wide appeal beyond just the metal community is still in full swing. Ultimately, the band is one of many gateways for those who’d never otherwise be exposed more than just a black metal band but not completely distanced from it either.
It took me until 30 minutes before doors opened to realise there was only one support act, and that Divide and Dissolve were not two different bands. It was a completely unexpected sound from what they looked like on stage. Huge drones of foreboding sounds dominated the room for a couple of seconds at a time, not hearing anything alike since SUNN O))) played at Manning Bar a few years ago. Divide and Dissolve move from sounds such as these to astonishing and haunting music with a film-score quality in radical shifts of tone. To sum up their set in the briefest way possible, it was just booms of perfectly arranged, sustained noise; the sound of fear and anxiety grew, as ‘Destroy White Supremacy’ stickers were handed out. I can’t stress enough how perfectly arranged Divide and Dissolve’s sound was to incite a feeling of true horror.
After a brief set up period, it was finally time for Deafheaven. The lights dimmed as the band took the stage, and the crowd cheered for the final act of the night. Frontman George Clarke took the stage, followed by the rest of the band, and began with the opening jaw clenching riff from Brought to the Water. With the recent release of their fourth full-length album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, Deafheaven have never sounded more comfortable and confident in their skin. It was an obvious crowd pleaser and a standout of the band’s catalogue. Shortly after, the band dove into the song they released just hours earlier, Black Brick, in which fans could see bassist Chris Johnson having the time of his life. Deafheaven sounded as impressive as they always have and George Clarke was certainly not shy about engaging the crowd verbally or physically. Encouraging the crowd to battle their way to the stage was entertaining to witness from my vantage point as well. Closing with Dream House as everyone expected (the song that introduced the non-metal world to Deafheaven), the room flew into a push-pit frenzy, fans rushing past each other, clamoring towards the stage as Clarke dove into the crowd. It was a succinct way to end a night that did everything live music is supposed to do.