Following an extended hiatus, Diiv have returned on a world tour following the release of their recent album, ‘Deceiver’. The Brooklyn four piece headed by Zachary Cole Smith remained true to their shoegaze aesthetic for the most part. However, the grunge influences of their new record incorporate an interesting, if not nostalgic, dimension to the live show.
Even 30 minutes before Diiv came on stage, Manchester Academy 2 was a tightly packed with eager fans. The dress code was uniform; black boots, black trousers and ‘insert indie rock band name here’ black t shirt. Their walk out music was simply the monotonous, deafening drone of feedback from the guitar. However, despite their best efforts to seemingly deter the crowd from gathering, there was a simmering anticipation within the dimly lit room.
They emerged nonchalantly, and with a simply ‘thank you for coming, we’re Diiv’, they plunge straight into tracks from their new album. The gentle melodies of the openers ‘Horsehead’ and ‘Skin Game’ come as a breath of fresh air in the dense room. ‘Skin Game’ especially feels like it could come off of a Sonic Youth album; playfully contrasting Cole’s singing to heavy tones of guitars which perhaps most Diiv fans are not accustomed to.
Certainly, ‘Deceiver’ has brought a variation of Diiv which perhaps puts more focus on the lead guitarist, Andrew Bailey. He stands centre-stage and contorts his face into grimaces, grins and scowls, darting his eyes across the crowd as the hard hitters of ‘Taker’ and ‘Like Before You Were Born’ play out. In comparison to the rest of the band, Cole lingers on the side of the stage; slinking in and out of sight, almost beckoned back onto stage when called upon to sing. The bassist Colin Caufield echoes Cole’s lyrics in a falsetto and drummer Ben Newman keeps the band on Earth when it is threatening to spiral into a wave of delay and reverb.
Diiv revert back to earlier material from ‘Is the Is Are’ and ‘Oshin’ after a few songs. Notable features including ‘Take your Time’ which sprouts the first mosh pits of the night. ‘Doused’ is a welcome interlude of blissful shoegaze to contrast the aggression of the first half of the night. However, Diiv welcome back the tone of the first songs as they finish with the strongest songs from their new album; ‘Blankenship’, ‘For the Guilty’ and ‘Acheron’. At this point, the crowd is in a fervour of excitement and bodies fly across the venue. Even the band, who generally had been fairly passive at this point, begin to thrash around on stage.
All in all, the experience is at times a little confused, but has been enhanced by the new songs. It’s safe to say that Diiv has evolved into a more interesting band with Deceiver. Whilst they haven’t perfected the fusion of their shoegaze and dream pop aesthetic with the grunge tones, they rarely make this distorted melancholy linger or stagnate.
Words: Will Corsellis
Image : Yuki Kikuchi