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danieltothill
23rd April 2024

DIIV live in Manchester: Shoegaze stars promise enlightenment

Misspelt shoegazers DIIV took to New Century Hall, with special guests in Hull’s bdrmm
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DIIV live in Manchester: Shoegaze stars promise enlightenment
Credit: Daniel Tothill @ The Mancunion

The overhead lights illuminated a New Century crowd abuzz with anticipation.

Despite releasing music since 2012, Diiv are a band that seems to have sprung suddenly onto everyone’s radar. A recent show of love from Zane Lowe and a Depeche Mode support slot certainly won’t have done any harm. Could DIIV ride the wave of the shoegaze revival to mainstream success? I was eager to find out if this was a band about to go stratospheric.

First, a support slot from bdrmm (pronounced, unsurprisingly, as ‘bedroom’). I possessed no prior knowledge of bdrmm, but it’s always good practice to catch the support: you never know when you’ll be exposed to something brilliant. And, to my delight, this was one of those moments. The band occupy a similar musical space to DIIV, but with a greater focus on vocals.

The lead singer/guitarist was aided by the bassist, who would continue each note, extending and warping it, creating a reverb live that bounced back and forth across the stage. The performance felt trance-like as alternative, dreamy riffs cut through production reminiscent of Radiohead‘s Kid A. Their new single, ‘standard tuning’ was a clear standout of an unusually generous but well-deserved 45-minute set.

diiv
Credit: Daniel Tothill @ The Mancunion

Between acts the crowd grew thicker, eager fans pushing through, jostling for space and ensuring they weren’t behind anyone too tall or (even worse) wearing a hat. I moved central, hoping for the best possible sound and, as the lights finally came down, a voice echoed over the speakers.

“You came to this show as the caterpillar, still in its cocoon. Prepare to be transformed.”

Here, I have paraphrased a long, poetic, potentially pretentious but mercifully tongue-in-cheek introduction that welcomed the band to the stage. Drowning in red light, four skinny guys in skate-wear and thick-rimmed glasses walked through the smoke, picked up their instruments and began to play. Here was DIIV.

From the first distorted note, I could tell the sound engineer was right on the money. The fragmented, shoegaze world, interposed with indie riffs, and delicate, thin vocals was perfectly balanced in the ear. I could appreciate what every band member was bringing to the table, the experience and ability born from years of touring on clear display.

Newer material took up the majority of the setlist. DIIV’s last effort Deceiver and upcoming album Frog in Boiling Water has taken their initial indie sound and fragmented it through a broken mirror of reverb, distortion, pedal effects and heavier elements. This went down a storm with the avid fans in the room – who were clear from their head-banging.

diiv
Credit: Daniel Tothill @ The Mancunion

Each song was accompanied by a different visual display. The focus was on home videos, cut together with newsreel, tour videos, and images of American suburbia. For a band that spoke little to the audience, and whose lyrics are often lost beneath a shredding lead riff, this offered a vital insight into the meaning behind the music. It proved an evocative accompaniment of bittersweet nostalgia, as well as providing some of the best visuals I have seen at a medium-sized venue.

On several instances, as guitars were swapped out and returned, the lights on the stage faded and a mock infomercial came to life on the screen. DIIV have constructed the world of ‘soul-net’ for their new album, satirising online medical services and social media offers of utopia. Through this lens, they at one point promised the audience salvation and enlightenment through the simple purchase of an item of DIIV merchandise. I didn’t indulge, but it did make me laugh.

For much of the audience, DIIV truly connected, inciting a mosh pit in their final tracks that only grew in intensity and number. I found the concert an interesting view into a DIY band only becoming more intrinsically themselves. The next big thing? Maybe not in the mainstream. But, based on tonight’s crowd, the band will continue to play these venues for as long as they wish, to a cult fan base who will only grow more devoted. If you submerge yourself in the sound, DIIV will be rewarded.

Daniel Tothill

Daniel Tothill

A second year law with criminology student, with a passion for live music, culture and the world around us.

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