Deafheaven: Defying Labels

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Deafheaven vocalist George Clarke screams while Kerry McCoy plays guitar at the Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Mar. 24, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Fog and red light ensconced Urban Lounge as Deafheaven took the stage Friday night. It was an apt and ominous introduction to the musical group from San Francisco, California.

Vocalist and front man George Clarke menacingly stared and pointed into the crowd as the band opened their set with “Brought to the Water.” It started off with industrial drone and bell sounds that gave way to shoegaze guitar, blast beat drums and Clarke bleakly screaming into the microphone, “where has my passion gone?”

Rishi Deka | Utah Chronicle
Deafheaven vocalist George Clarke headbangs at Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Mar. 24, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

The vocalist certainly brought the passion with his powerful stage presence, violent head banging, dancing, and interacting with the crowd during the lively seventy-minute concert.

It was during the next song, “Baby Blue,” that a small mosh pit formed in the middle of the crowd right in front of Clarke. He quickly encouraged people to join and gather together.

The mosh pit reached a climax during the fourth song, “Language Games”, when Clarke sorrowfully shouted “deaf to the heavens” amidst ethereal clean guitars and pummeling drum beats. Metalheads rushed and banged into one another in a large circle that had now engulfed the majority of the venue. Some were pushed onto the stage while one man even landed on stage, hugging Clarke as the vocalist energetically pushed him back into the pit.

Rishi Deka | Utah Chronicle
Deafheaven vocalist George Clarke interacts with the crowd at Urban Lounge in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Mar. 24, 2017. (Rishi Deka, Daily Utah Chronicle)

Deafheaven closed their set with “The Pecan Tree”, a harrowing song about trying to forget hurtful memories. In total, the band played eight melancholic songs that seamlessly transitioned from dire black metal to post-rock, defiant of any musical genre labels.

r.deka@dailyutahchronicle.com

Rishi Deka

Rishi Deka is a Utah Press Association award-winning photo/multimedia journalist. He is also a research academic with a PhD at the University of Utah.

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