An ideal night for music in Austin; the weather, the entertainment, and the overall mood at the Mohawk on Red River St, were the perfect storm for an incredible night out for Austinite music fans. Deafheaven, a shoegaze-metal quintet out of San Francisco, have established themselves as a must-see live band given their technical instrumental prowess and front man, George Clarke’s, invigorating stage theatrics and voice-box shredding vocals. This Will Destroy You, a post-rock quartet out of San Marcos were a perfect mollified complement to Deafheaven’s unhinged nature, and Emma Ruth Rundle introduced her melancholic singer/songwriter sound to a fresh audience.
Emma Ruth Rundle may project a sad sultriness, but her cute and kitschy synthesizer parts strike a lighter note, that makes the balance more palatable. While many in the audience were present to mosh, head bang, and release energy, Ruth had a hypnotic effect that demanded the crowd’s attention- and won it over quite convincingly.
This Will Destroy You sounds as if Explosions in the Sky and SLEEP had a lovechild in central Texas. While their set consisted of only six songs, each track’s length contained it’s own universe of emotion. Opening with an ode to Texas , “The Mighty Rio Grande”, on the day of Texas Independence was an appropriate ‘tip of the hat’. This Will Destroy You can delve into despair and isolation, only to veer into a percussive inspiring instrumental build, and then end in a head-banging zenith. While the Texas natives finished their set with the drone-like “Little Smoke”, their performance was a perfect palate pleaser for Deafheaven to follow.
George Clark is one of the most electrifying front men in the whole of the music world. Seemingly clean-cut, and always dressed in black, Clarke bucks the stereotype of the grungy cretin-like metalhead, and looks more like a hipster in upscale garb. The set began with three songs from their latest record, New Bermuda, of which “Brought To Water” garnered the most visceral reaction from the galvanized crowd. Guitarist, Kerry McCoy, ripped through intricate riffs while drummer, Daniel Tracy, had surgical and wizard-like precision on each of his rhythm changes and fills.
A sea of excited fans pulsed with Clarke’s direction, and a circular energy vortex was flowing through both band and fans. Deafheaven mixed up the set with a Mogwai cover of “Cody” before ending with their three most well-recognized songs; “Sunbather”, “Dream House”, and “The Pecan Tree”. The last twenty minutes of the set an orgasmic and titular experience where each chorus sent shockwaves through the rabid fans present.
The positivity, camaraderie, and candid appreciation of the fans by Clarke and the rest of the band makes seeing them, almost a homecoming experience. The melodic and shoegaze influenced song structures paint beautiful soundscapes, while the laconic shrieks from Clarke and staccato riffing from McCoy bring a primal core to the music. Deafheaven is a special band that possesses songwriting skills that are unattainable to other metal bands, yet they also dedicate the whole of their being to unforgettable live performances of which they came through on, once again, this past Thursday night at the Mohawk.