Last Friday the Opera House hosted an absolutely stacked line-up of black metal/shoegaze hybrid Deafheaven, nugazers No Joy and stoner-metal duo Indian Handcrafts. The venue was packed with metalheads and hipsters mostly clad in black, with the younger demographic sporting Deafheaven t-shirts.
Indian Handcrafts (pictured) opened the show with a steady dose of riffs, frenetic drumming and distorted vocals. The two piece of drummer/vocalist Brandyn James Aikins and guitarist/vocalist Daniel Brandon Allen relied on unconventional song structures to keep things fresh. The syncopated set opener “Starcraft” was just straight up a killer tune and fast ‘n furious “Terminal Horse” acted as a for-sure crowd pleaser. Anyone who showed up early was treated to a performance that threatened to overshadow the rest of the night.
Up next was No Joy, who I’m a big fan of. I’m not sure if it was the sound mix or whether they were sick or just worn out from a long tour, but they seemed to struggle to gain any momentum. The guitars seemed to be barely present until an absolutely thunderous (and excellent) rendition of their drone-heavy track “E”. But it was too late to save the set. I’ve seen No Joy play better before and I’m sure they’ll have better shows in the future.
Deafheaven closed up with a set of solid noise. Between waves of distortion, machine-gun drumming and the death-growls on vocalist George Clarke, there was barely a moment to catch your breath. Underneath the noise, however, were melodic bits from guitarist Kerry McCoy lending a beautiful and melancholic aspect to the otherwise pure aggression. Clarke, though, spent the majority of the set staring down the crowd, gesturing dramatically, raising his fist in grandiose fashion and clutching his head with an intensity that veered on the edge of self-parody. It was hard to tell if he was in on the joke (and if he was, well played sir) but it certainly gave the performance an entertaining comedic aspect intentional or not.