Review: DIIV with Sunflower Bean and No Joy @ Urban Lounge 10.17
After a year of waiting for DIIV to release their prolonged second album, this past Saturday, I had the chance to catch them at the Urban Lounge and get a taste of that new and highly anticipated material. With support from fellow shoegazers No Joy and New Bork neighbors (I’ll explain that later) Sunflower Bean, it turned out to be a damn-good show.
Sunflower Bean stepped up to take the stage first. The first thing I noticed was the female bassist/vocalist I had nearly shouldered about 10 minutes prior while practicing my shoegazing—no harm, no foul, right? To be honest, I hadn’t heard of either of the supporting bands, as I was mainly focused on seeing DIIV. With a lack of preconceived notions, I was in for quite the treat. Midway through their first song, I was hooked. The neo-psychedelic group played some serious material. The bass emitted some serious, wall-rattling fuzz alongside some fancy guitar licks and pretty versatile vocals. Sometimes soft, harmonious verses and, at another time, awesome high-pitched screams, those vocals were my favorite part of their music. One note to make is the band’s timing—it was right on. They’d take these little, sporadic breaks toward the end of their songs, fooling the crowd into applause before hitting one or two last notes. Sunflower Bean had a good mix of songs too. Most of their set list consisted of those aforementioned wall-rattling tunes, but also included some sweet, mellow ones—and even one with a killer surf sound. Having realized this was my kind of music long before the set was over, the end of it came too soon. Up next was No Joy, another unfamiliar band for me.
No Joy had a pretty unconventional stage setup, maybe even a bit misleading. One female guitarist held center stage with no mic, while a second rocker chick hid in the back left with a mic. On the opposite side (stage right) was the bassist and his mic stand, which he didn’t sing into all that much. Moving on, it was a little hard to tell when No Joy’s sound check ended and their first song began. With no introduction, they seemed to move from hitting random notes and hollering into the mic to hitting structured notes and hollering into the mic. Their set continued in that kind of manner. I wasn’t always sure when the next song had started, but I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. They delivered that hair-in-your face rock all night, sounding quite different from what I heard in their recordings I checked out after the show. Their live sound gave me a bit of a Sonic Youth–inspired vibe topped with some soft, high vocals. For the most part, their set played out in that fashion until an uncertain ending. And just like their introduction, No Joy’s exit also lacked any sort of communication. Ears ringing, I was more than ready for DIIV to take their spot on stage.
As Cole Smith and his band prepared to play, I noticed a couple new faces in the group. Aside from a new drummer, DIIV had gained a backing vocalist playing keys and a third guitar on some of the songs. Much like their set to follow, the sound check was even entertaining, as Smith sang monk-like hymns into the mic—“Cheehhheeeehhhheeeeeck.” They continued their subtle antics by starting to play a note and quickly stopping with a “Thank you and good night.” As much as I was looking forward to hearing their new material, I was hoping to hear some Oshin tracks in there, too. To my delight, they kicked off their time on the stage with “Human” followed by “How Long Have You Known” and then a couple new ones from their upcoming album, Is the Is Are. They switched back and forth between the two albums throughout the show, throwing in more of that subtle silliness in between just about every song. It started with repeating the words “Thank you, we’re called DIIV and we’re from New York,” which later turned into “We’re DIIV and we’re from New Bork City.” Their new material is just as pleasing as their old stuff, with a good change in sound and quite a bit more vocals. The set couldn’t have gone long enough for me, but they played a few of my favorites and closed out with the crowd-pleasing “Doused.” Feeling highly satisfied and more anxious for that album to drop, I walked out of Urban wanting more. DIIV stole the show for me, but No Joy and Sunflower Bean provided fantastic support and turned me on to some good shit. Well done, ladies and gentlemen—and what a night.