Just as Rhythm & Funk were the main musical themes at the eastern end of the festival yesterday, today the main theme seems to be hard rock, or, at least, it is at the White Stage. Following Bo Ningen’s set, San Francisco band Deafheaven reigned with an interesting blend of metal attitude and shoegazey drone.
The band’s vocalist, George Clarke, sings with that carcinogenic growl that death metal singers like so much, which means you can’t understand a word he’s saying. Though the band’s press materials mention death and depression, he could have been singing about Pokemon for all we knew. The band behind him kept up a repetitive two-chord hum that ebbed and flowed, eventually breaking into a sustained metal thrash.
Clarke, dressed in black, would gesticulate and conduct imaginary musicians, sometimes kneeling when he wanted to particularly make a point that we couldn’t understand anyway. His dancing was . . . unique. And at the end of every song he would punch his chest. At first we thought he was trying to hurt himself, but he was only expressing his solidarity with the audience.
As with Bo Ningen, the audience was pretty much just waiting to act out, and during Deafheaven’s own apocalyptic closer, the mosh pit overflowed like a busted dam, and whatever it was that Clarke was trying to communicate, it obviously made the intended effect. Guys emerged from the scrim punching the air in triumph. It’s great to win.