By Jake Dromgoole
Ah, autumn in Austin, Texas. Where the temperatures rise and fall thirty degrees overnight, and sweater weather quickly becomes just plain sweat weather. Oct. 14 at the Mohawk was one of those warmer nights, made warmer by the few hundred bodies gathered to witness shoegaze/indie band DIIV’s return to Austin.
DIIV (pronounced dive) took the outdoor stage at the Mohawk a little after nine o’clock after openers Chastity and Storefront Church kicked things off with two stellar opening sets. Red lights flooded the patio as the band launched into opening number “Skin Game,” off of their latest album Deceiver, released earlier this month. “This is one of our favorite venues to play,” said bassist/vocalist Colin Caufield. “We just put out a record and we’re gonna play the whole thing,” he continued as the band played the opening chords to Deceiver standout “Horsehead.” This song, driven by the duo quiet/loud guitar stylings of vocalist Zachary Cole Smith and guitarist Andrew Bailey, is reminiscent of legendary alt-rockers Built to Spill and Smashing Pumpkins.
Shouts from the crowd requesting songs from the band’s back catalog were heard early in the set. “Play Oshin!” Yelled one overexcited fan. “Doused!” Shouted another. Finally, an unsung hero stepped forth from the shadows. “Play what you want,” he shouted as the crowd cheered. “Thank you,” replied Caufield as the band began playing the Real Estate-flavored “Between Tides.” This is just a reminder to all my fellow concert goers: don’t be rude and shout at bands to play your favorite song. Chances are, they know you want to hear a certain song, and have saved it for their set. Unless, and I have seen this happen, you are asked what you want to hear, just go along with the ride. Trust in the artists to lead you on a musical adventure and I promise you will not be let down. Okay, now to step off my soapbox and continue with my recap!
Other standouts from the night included the droning “Taker,” off of Deceiver. This song is an uncanny mixture of Diamond Eyes- era Deftones and The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me– era Brand New. Bailey, standing center-stage, thrashed and danced with his guitar, even losing his cap once in the process. Smith, positioned on the left side of the stage, stood stoic for the majority of night, introspectively singing and breaking from his spot only to adjust his pedal board and to take the occasional guitar solo. Drummer Ben Newman rightfully took centerstage on “Blankenship,” allowing his intricate rhythms to pierce through the layered guitarwork of Smith and Bailey and Caufield’s thumping bass.
Strobe lights flashed violently as the band blazed through Deceiver closer “Archeron.” Smith and Bailey both had standout performances as their harmonizing guitars clashed over Caufield’s bass and Newman’s driving rhythms. The band exited the stage briefly only to return for their encore. “We played the whole album. Nothing left but old songs, so here’s an old song,” said Smith. With that, the band began playing the very Smiths-esque “Dust,” off of 2016’s Is the Is Are. The performance absolutely floored and even thrilled the crowd at times. As I looked out, there was no shortage of banging heads and air guitarists. Flashing flood lights beamed brightly, illuminating the band during the song’s extended outro. Smith took a reverb-drenched guitar solo while silhouettes of his bandmates danced around stage in a cohesively chaotic fashion.
The streets of Red River and 10th were soon flooded with concert-goers making their way into the warm autumn night. I grabbed a copy of Deceiver on vinyl and started the trek home. I checked my weather app and saw that it was going to drop to the 60s in just a couple of days. That’s one of the things I love about Austin: be it the changing weather, or a show on a Monday night, life here is simply unpredictable.
Featured image by Jake Dromgoole.