The crowd danced, the open bar drinks flowed, and the 714 club thumped with a swath of chic music spanning the modern pop era. The event, hosted by Making Time, was billed equal parts band and DJ.
Zachary Cole Smith, the creative force behind DIIV, stood on top of an elevated corner (I don’t know if I could call it a stage), attempting a sound check. The crowd, an expected mix of beards and skinny jeans, began to huddle towards Smith and the rest of the band, who were mouthing words to the sound engineer as the Talking Heads blared from the fifteen-foot speaker next to them. “Thanks for all the extra house music,” Smith joked before starting right into a song off the band’s new LP, “Is The Is Are.” Heads bopped and feet were tapped, with a mosh pit eventually forming in the center of the crowd.
To those familiar to DIIV’s music, this may come as a surprise. The band, which started as Smith’s solo project, first gained notoriety with the release of 2012’s “Oshin,” an album that was no stranger to the tropes of shoegaze. In retrospect, however, the punk roots of Smith’s music are evident, and not only from the Cobain idolization that takes place at his live shows. In returning to the record, the guitar work carries a much angrier tone than the prominent “chillwave” artists who shared his influences four years ago.
If the continuation of this punk tone is noticeable on the refined but long-winded “Is The Is Are,” then it is a force to be reckoned with in Smith’s live shows. Interlaced between the songs was very little stage banter, with Smith only stopping to take requests. Almost all of the crowd’s shouts were played, including standout cut from the new album, “Dust.” While the crowd was certainly rowdier than I anticipated, this came as a pleasant surprise. It was fairly easy for me to escape the fray while still enjoying the energy it provided.
Opening for DIIV were the female fronted Paranoyds, a California based band playing riot-grrrl style garage rock. They hopped up on stage wearing leopard and tiger print skirts, in what appeared to be equal parts homage and parody of Josie and the Pussycats. In between acts the aforementioned DJs spun some truly great tunes, in what made for an event without a single lull. I not only recommend seeing DIIV next time they come around, but also recommend any Making Time event, given that you enjoy the band. After all, who really wants to listen to the sound check?