Between The Buried And Me & Deafheaven

3/11, The Oakland Metropolitan Opera House

San Francisco-based metal band Deafheaven enjoyed a raucous welcome back to the Bay Area—I’d be hard-pressed to say who the crowd was more excited about; them or the headliners. They played just three songs: “Dream House,” “Sunbather,” and “Pecan Tree.”

If you’ve heard this critically-acclaimed band at all, then you know their sound: songs that run for ten minutes and more, blast beats for almost the whole time, and unintelligibly intense screaming throughout. What took the energy of their live performance to the next level was within the nature of their compositions: Yes, it’s intense, yes, it’s metal, but it’s also happy; it’s exultant. Deafheaven’s music is undeniably deep and full of hope, which I think allowed the crowd to really celebrate the intensity within themselves, as if it were a dubstep show or something.

From videos I’ve watched, I’d thought their singer a bit shy and standoff-ish, not sure what to do with his unexpected emergence as an internationally acclaimed performer. In person, the shyness was definitely still there, showing itself as a slight reticence in his gestures; he was putting on a great show, with great poses and facial expressions, but it had the feeling of trying out moves in an effort to see what was cool; to see what fit his image, when he wasn’t yet sure what that image was. I was just happy to see him present and engaged with the crowd, whether it was authentic or not.

The venue was nicely suited to the event: a rarely seen absence of security, a low stage with no barrier, and a really wide floor provided the eclectic crowd of music lovers with space to rock out freely. The signs on either side of the stage reading “No Stage Diving” were a bit of a joke; their presence, along with no one to enforce the rule, seemed to only encourage crowd-surfing.

This show marked something like the sixth time I’d seen Between The Buried And Me. From that long perspective of 2006 to now, I can say that their live performance has gotten steadily better and better. Where before the band was relatively boring to watch, letting the singer do all the entertaining, now the band is a lot more engaged. Their frequent smiles and flicks of their hair are testament to their growing enjoyment of what they do, and their growing love of the unique metal they create.

They shredded with joyous fury for over an hour, playing songs off their three latest LP’s that ranged from three minutes long to fifteen minutes long. The highest point for me was their finale, “Silent Flight Parliament.” This cumulative closing piece off their latest (and best) album rang with apocalyptic intensity that stirred the crowd into an ecstatic frenzy, even though we’d been moshing, screaming, jumping and crowd- surfing for an hour already.

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.