LIVE: Deafheaven, Chelsea Wolfe @ The Garage, London

By Glen Bushell

After the news that ATP’s Jabberwocky fest had fallen through at the 11th hour, a lot of fans were left wondering if the bands from the stellar line up would play replacement shows. In the days after, shows were announced by Pissed Jeans, Iceage, Neutral Milk Hotel, and The Van Pelt (eventually), so those that were due to attend Jabberwocky would be still receive some reward in the wake of the troubled festival. However, the most exciting show to take place from the fallout is without a doubt the pairing of Deafheaven and Chelsea Wolfe on this Friday night in North London.

On paper, and to the untrained ear, it would seem like an odd pairing for tonight’s show, but given the fact that The Garage is at boiling point by the time Chelsea Wolfe takes the stage it is clear that this is a special evening for all in attendance. When the lights go down a synthesised bass drone rumbles from the speakers, shaking you to your very foundations as Chelsea Wolfe takes to the stage. Her dark and brooding sound is enchanting from the outset, and it is impossible to take your eyes off the stage. She plays a crowd pleasing set including ‘Feral Love’, ‘We Hit a Wall’, and ‘Pale on Pale’, all of which are suffocating with their melancholia, and only addresses the crowd to thank them at end before disappearing into a wall of white noise and strobe lights.

Next up are Deafheaven, who have been one of the most talked about bands in recent years and have garnered both positive and negative press. They have been called “fake black metal”, “black metal for hipsters”, and many other things, all of which are pointless wastes of breath because Deafheaven’s live show is simply breathtaking.

From the moment the band launch into ‘Dream House’ it is an explosion of euphoric noise, with the crowd drawn into every bit of the ambience coming from the stage. Front man George Clarke commands the throng in front of him like a conductor, as the howling screams that come from within him make his looming presence seem even more massive. The title track from 2013’s phenomenal LP ‘Sunbather’ is more than just fast guitars, reverb effects and blast beat drumming wailing through the cacophony, it is an out of body experience like no other.

The band then end on ‘The Pecan Tree’ which is 9 minutes of sheer beauty. Equal parts Slowdive, equal parts Emperor, yet somehow sounding like neither of them, and only sounding like one band: Deafheaven. After 60 minutes of mesmerising devastation the band leave the stage to a deafening  applause from the crowd, which proves any naysayers wrong.

Tonight was a special show indeed, and a brilliant showcase for two very different bands that play by no ones rules other than their own, both of whom could sell this venue out twice over on their own.  People will soon forget about the issues with Jabberwocky, and only remember this awe-inspiring spectacle that was placed before them tonight.