Concert Reviews

Deafheaven at Marquis Theater, 2/16/14

Page 2 of 2

Though Deafheaven played only five songs in its set, which clocked in at a little over an hour, the band maintained a heightened emotional state pretty much beginning to end, even in the more meditative moments in each song. Clarke struck dramatic poses, gestured as though conducting the music and had expressions of menace and peace bordering on transcendence -- it was all very theatrical, but there was an undeniable core of honest emotion coursing through it all that was almost shamanistic in its effect. In that way, it often felt like Clarke was drawing on the energy of the crowd and radiating it back in a near constant cycle.

"Vertigo" was Cure-like with a dreamlike melody in the beginning that of course veered off in a completely different direction by the end. "The Pecan Tree" was slathered with the My Bloody Valentine-esque "glide guitar" technique, particularly in the middle of the song; it was like an oil droplet on water drifting across the rushing flow of the driving rhythm section.

And that's where the show would have ended, with a series of builds, peaks, ebbs and flows of sound and emotion in rapid escalations and in drifting slow motion. But Clarke came back on and told us the band had time for one more song. The tune was "Unrequited," from the Roads to Judah album, and once again Deafheaven delivered a shining, shifting monolith of song that came crashing down repeatedly until the music was over.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.