Deafheaven, Destruction Unit, Wreck & Reference - Crescent Ballroom - 6/30/14

Categories: Last Night

Troy Farah

I went to a Deafheaven show, but you probably haven't heard of them. That's a deaf joke, because my ears are ringing and won't stop and I'm a little terrified I have tinnitus.

I get called a hipster every so often, which is kind of stupid, but whatever; I've been called worse things by better people. That's still the argument, though, isn't it? Music conversation has become about whether it's cool or not or whether you've heard of something (first, no less), not whether it's good or not.

Deafheaven is good. I don't know what that makes me for liking them, but the 30 or 40 articles I read on this so-called "metal shoegaze" band hinted that it makes me something. Here's another reminder that genre barely exists and is irrelevant. I still use it, but only for direction, not as a landmark.

To the point: Wreck & Reference opened this gig. This drum and sample board duo are what I would call "plastic metal," which is not an insult. The lead dude attached his Ableton board to a guitar strap and slapped it like a Fender, wielding it in a frenzy similar to how Jonny Greenwood would play sludge.


I've been wanting to do something like that for years, but I'm not a musician. I'll never understand why electronic musicians just lay their gear on a table. It's boring to watch you stand there and push buttons, but even a keytarist looks more interesting than a keyboardist (unless you're this guy.) Take note of this, folks -- Wreck & Ref know what they're doing. Their energy was massive and impressive. But it was plastic instruments and metal noises, so plastic metal.

Obviously, I've heard a lot about Destruction Unit because they're treated like gods in Phoenix right now. I'd never caught one of their shows, however, because it seems it was always at some obscure venue across town or they were busy touring the planet. They were like if The 13th Floor Elevators merged with Black Sabbath, so I guess they were "neo-psychedelic howler monkey drone metal." See how useless genres can be?


But fuck, Destruction Unit was incredibly cool. Just imagine the coolest band you can think and multiply it by 11. Just pure, melodic noise. I want to be everyone in this band's best friend. There were no pauses between songs, which is a great stage technique if you can pull it off. Don't give your audience a chance to breathe. Still, almost no one was dancing or getting into it. Big surprise.

My friend and former New Times music editor Jason Woodbury said a few days ago that maybe I wasn't going to the right gigs. I try go to plenty of shows that have energy, but I tend to complain more about the ones that lack engagement. He's right, though. Then I looked over at the underage section and realized all the kickass punk shows with crowdsurfing, moshing, and an overabundance of enthusiasm involved the underage crowd.

So when Deafheaven took the stage, I went over there. I removed my earplugs and got shoved around and drenched in sweat and kicked in the shins a hundred times. It felt exhilarating and chaotic and visceral and fun. Almost everyone on the "adult" side still acted boring. But Deafheaven's singer, George Clarke, wasn't having it.

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