DIIV – [Live]

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

DIIV is a solo project turned full-time endeavor, fronted by former Beach Fossils guitarist Zachary Cole Smith. When he sauntered on stage at Lee's Palace during North By Northeast Music Conference, this young man looked like a homeless, youthful Kurt Cobain draped in an extra large sweatshirt with Malibu stamped in yellow across the front. He looked like you could take a nap on him. His pants were baggy and too short (a possible homage to Stone Roses attire) and his black dress shoes were an inch away from disintegrating due to wear. He looked ridiculous to be honest, but he didn’t look like anyone else. Conversely, guitarist Andrew Bailey looked like a "Loser"-era Beck with light brown chin length hair and tattered dress pants. Given the overall image of the duo, it would have been easy to expect some sort of nostalgia act but, the second they started to play, any pre-conceived notions about their music based on their appearance washed away in a fast wave.

The entrance of the dream-pop era with bands like  Beach House and Real Estate as well as the re-imagining of Creation Record-style bands has delivered us DIIV – one of the most beautifully executed takes on the theme. A guitar-driven band, Smith and Bailey match one another with bright riffs and hooks played in tandem, echoing around each other as Smith softly paints vocals over top of the heavy reverb. This is a band certainly tired of playing chords; they solo and riff through every song but it’s not just a stupid dick-waving contest. Even when the melody gets dark its attractive; the tempo is upbeat with drummer Colby Hewitt keeping it fresh with rolls instead of clicks. Bassist Devon Rubin Perez stared at the ground, face covered in long curly black hair, bobbing his head and chopping at his strings (he never showed his face to the crowd (no one has any idea what he looks like).  They have the guitar tone of The Smiths, the darkness of The Cure, the tempo of Joy Division and the energy of Nirvana. Okay, so Smith has a bleached bowl cut, a Cobain stance and a Fender Jaguar, so what? There’s no comparison in the music but the energy put forth by these young men is a fucking breath of fresh air. Is anyone else sick of shoe gazers actually shoe gazing, tied up in an image and playing half as technically and vibrantly enthusiastic as DIIV are?

DIIV played their entire soon-to-be-released debut, Oshin, as well as an obscure Nirvana track called “Bambi Slaughter” from the Fecal Matter days.  "How Long Will You Know" stands out among their repertoire with its layers of curiosity and resolution. "Doused," the closing song, ends in screams and powerful noise and this is where the punk attitude kicks its way through the screen. Most bands aren’t capable of tossing themselves around and maintaining as gorgeous a sound as they do. But the boys in DIIV just can’t control the forced movement. They smiled, they played their asses off and they were different, not in the classical sense but certainly in the current one. On a festival bill as big as North By Northeast, only a few truly great bands break through the figurative din and become visible every year, and DIIV are one of them in 2012.



DIIV's debut album, Oshin, will be released on June 26, 2012 via Captured Tracks. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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