DIIV @ Thekla, Bristol, 22/09/2016

diivContinuing Thekla’s amazing run of gigs this month is DIIV. The New York City band has had an air of mystery of late, with their European tour being cancelled in March due to an ‘urgent health issue’ with nothing else said on the matter. Putting rumours and speculation aside, DIIV have kick-started their tour again in the UK with Bristol on the bill tonight.

Where’s this boat gonna take us,” lead singer Zachary Cole-Smith starts, “Up shit creek?” Bouts of cheers of “DIIV, DIIV, DIIV,” erupt in the crowd, prompting Zachary Cole-Smith to say their trademarked phrase, “We’re DIIV and we’re from New York City.” They begin with instrumental track, “(Druun)” from debut album, Oshin, easing us into their set.

Their chilled indie shoe gaze sound is amplified in a live setting, with heavier drums and a lively crowd. Now with two albums under their belt, their set list includes tracks from Oshin, and latest album, Is The Is Are. Despite its controversy, Is The Is Are proves that DIIV aren’t victim to the poor second album curse. The number  of obstacles they overcame to release it includes a drug related arrest and former drummer, Colby Hewitt, leaving due to drug addiction which only makes it seem more real and personal, which translates well in dark and intimate Thekla.

With the positive response from the crowd, DIIV make an impromptu set list adjustment; “Do you guys wanna hear Earthboy?” The track itself hasn’t been played – or even practiced, Zachary adds – in over a year, offering something special for the Thekla crowd.

Considering the casual shoegaze genre, it’s a lot rowdier than expected. With so many people attempting to crowd surf, it’s not long before someone gets knocked out. “Can anyone that works here help this guy out?” Zachary asks, looking at the passed out guy lying on the stage, who was lying on the crowd only seconds earlier. “He’s like knocked out,” he continues, as we wait for someone in the Thekla team to help him up.

Having seen DIIV previously in a much larger venue, this performance was something else. They seem to thrive in a smaller, more intimate location where they can chat to the crowd or comment on Joe Jonas’ nipples or burp the alphabet or play happy birthday to someone in the crowd, whereas that stuff just doesn’t translate as well in a larger venue.

Zachary says their last song is coming up, to which people respond with a generic encore shout already. “Encore fuckers,” Zachary jokes, “shall we play shut your fucking face motherfucker,” accompanied by a little guitar riff. Ending with “Doused”, they round off the evening with a favourite, but the whole set was chock full of crowd pleasers with their well curated set list hitting the nail on the head. There’s no doubt that DIIV are one to see live and the smaller the venue, the better.

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