Having not ventured across the pond for a while, it seems only right that New York’s DIIV return for a sold-out Birmingham show to showcase tracks off their follow-up album Is The Is Are. With nothing released since 2012 and it being reported that over 150 songs were written since, all the crowd want is to know that the wait was worth it, which it sure was.
Birmingham’s own Chartreuse open the night with their dreamy, laid-back tracks that draw comparisons to the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club. ‘Brutus’ stands out with its floating melodies that sees more people enticed to join the crowd to enjoy the delicate vocals and gentle guitars encapsulating the venue. As their set moves on, it becomes more energetic with frontwoman Harriet Wilson adding to the drums, making the calmness a little more restless.
‘We’re DIIV from New York, and here’s a new song,” affirms frontman Zachary Cole Smith as the Brooklyn band troop onstage fully clad in their notorious retro, oversized get up. That constant reminder from Smith echoes throughout their set as they introduce the packed-out room to the material from their new record, Is The Is Are.
There’s little resistance to this as the same dreaminess heard in Oshin plays out, but with a little more grit and darkness showing how far they’ve come. Jangling, reverb-laden riffs overlap with the ethereal vocals of Smith who with his beanie draped over the mic, adds an extra eeriness to his croons that seems to just work.
For those waiting for the DIIV Oshin classics, it doesn’t take long for the intro of ‘How Long Have You Known’ to kick in, resulting in drinks being put down and movement towards the front as the long-awaited pit begins. The floor-filler perks everyone up as the dreamy hooks resonate around the room, though seeming lacking in any ferocity the track sure enough causes it.
Dimmed lighting and smoke obscure the effortlessly cool band as they lead on into the slow-building ‘Oshin (Subsume)’. Chants of “fuck the world / alien love” and disconcerting moans overlay the chilling bass and guitars, making the dreamy, spaced-out track leave everyone breaking out in a sweat.
Intermixing the oldies with all the new material seems to go down a storm, as with every “we’re DIIV from New York, and here’s a new song” from Smith (there’s a lot of them) there’s no complaints or any chance for a breather as the chaos never relinquishes. With some tracks seeming more brooding, whilst others drown in shimmering, hypnotic melodies that make it difficult not to dance along.
With no encore, there’s little chance to say goodbye but with a good idea of what to expect from Is The Is Are then there’s little disappointment from anyone. Moving into a new era with a shakeup of members and a clear advancement in their music, the new record is a chance to put behind the past controversies and become even better than what they already are. If what they showcased tonight is what we have to go by, then 2015 can only get more exciting thanks to DIIV.