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Review: DIIV's Homecoming Show At The House Of Vans

"Tres bien" it was to have the band back from tour!

By Mack Caldwell 

As Sunflower Bean rolled into their song “Wall Watcher”, blue and red lights shot out onto the bobbing crowd at The House of Vans in Brooklyn, NY last night. The bass slammed into the audience with lead riffs that carried gritty weight knocking fans from side to side. Heads rolled loose on pairs of shoulders with arms flung out, all guided by Julia Cumming’s airy but harsh vocals. She grooved, swinging the bass around, giving the performance its own visual rhythm.

Packed wall to wall, fans were lined up the stairs of a skate ramp that overlooked the stag, hanging over the railing with cameras flashing off, screaming in emphatic bliss. Sunflower Bean wrangled their set to a close with aquatic hit “Easier Said” and with the last kick of the bass drum and final light riff from the lead guitar, the crowd flowed out into the outdoor space. There, the audience found food trucks, beer stands, and a wall of Porta-Potty's as they prepared themselves for a large helping of post-bop and jazz from BADBADNOTGOOD.

Soon, everyone heard a drumstick hit a cymbal, while pairs of hands hit keys, sax, and bass. The mosh of smooth sound reeled the audience back indoors. As the sun dissipated into darkness, the stage got brighter, and BADBADNOTGOOD kicked off their set with songs that built from a mash of instruments. Their brilliance appeared almost accidental as they flowed through new, jazz-filled songs and even Flying Lotus covers!

Both music and the flowing audience became one in the same. The crowd responded to the power of the saxophone riffs by throwing themselves at each other in a circle of organized chaos. During the close of their set, drummer Alexander Sowinski, brought a friend from his old high school up to sing, her light vocals perfectly rounding out the style and sound of the band. Known for collaborating with eccentric types such as Tyler, The Creator and even Ghostface Killah, BADBADNOTGOOD wound the audience up and then released them in a jazz accented explosion.

Later, a projector shot onto the stage as Zachary Cole Smith, draped in blue light, approached an anxious audience. He stood straight, staring out into a pool of glowing wide eyes and screaming tongues. “What’s up Vans Warped Tour,” he said sarcastically, igniting a roll of laughter throughout the crowd.

“He’s so funny!” A girl screamed out towards the stage, mouth wide, with a beaming smile. Smith’s pupils shot to the left and right. He breathed in and let out a metallic screech “ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

The drum, bass, and guitars all were slung into action in a mesh of intermingled shoegaze riffs and deep buzzing bass that were thrust before the swaying fans. DIIV played through fan favorites such as “How Long Have You Known?” off of their earlier album Oshin and ran through new hits like “Under The Sun”, and the slow burner “Bent”.

Eventually, the frontman unstrapped his guitar between two songs and asked for a skateboard. “I’m not playing until I do a triple flip!” Smith shouted into the microphone. The audience began to search. People turned to the stands, and then to the bouncers and merch table, moving, weaving, attempting to find a skateboard. Zach pressed the microphone close with a grin. “I can’t do a triple flip!” The audience erupted in relief and laughter.

“How is everyone?” He looked around smiling, “Are we good? Bien? Tres bien?”

Tres bien we were. DIIV closed their set with the unique and airy punk song “Doused”, during which, a circle opened up, with bouncing bodies and white beer foam spilling as cups were sipped and tossed. People danced, letting go of whatever ridiculous pressing obligations they had the next day, ecstatic, and thankful to be able to see their favorite band for free at The House of Vans.