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DIIV – The Garage, London 14/11/12

20 November 2012, 14:55 | Written by Fiona Kirkpatrick

Photograph by Jason Williamson.

“Use what you got,” chirps DIIV frontman Zachary Cole Smith shortly after taking the stage Wednesday night at The Garage in Islington. The venue is hotter than Hades and both the audience and the band are dripping and drowning in sweat. Cole Smith proceeds to make a few more of these nonsensical declarations throughout the gig, but for the most part he keeps the chat to a minimum and his band rolls through a hypnotic 40-minute set of indie rock tunes with impressive ease.

Cole Smith first began working on DIIV (pronounced ‘Dive’ – after the Nirvana song) in 2011, when he was still a guitarist in Beach Fossils. (DIIV has serious indie pedigree: in addition to the Beach Fossils connection, the drummer, Colby Hewitt, used to be in the Smith Westerns.) He wanted to create a band that was based on nature, so he came up with the idea of DIIV – each band member represents one of the elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Cole Smith is a friendly sort of rock star, with a goofy grin and hair bleached a golden California / Dalston blonde. “Do you guys like to do drugs?” He smiles congenially down the microphone. “Let’s do some drugs.”

Band name and blonde hair aside, Cole Smith’s music and personality leaves the taste of Nirvana and Cobain in your mouth – but DIIV’s grunge punch packs some serious sun and surf that’s miles away from Seattle. DIIV’s music is best described as seascape pop (also known as beach grunge): their debut album is called Oshin and their guitar riffs are so compelling that watching them play live is like aurally treading water. References to the sea run rampant through the band’s song names and lyrics, but DIIV don’t try to be extraordinarily controversial: they just want to give good noise.

The structure of their live set mirrors the structure of Oshin – the most vocal-heavy tracks, ‘How Long Have you Known,’ ‘Sometime’ and ‘Doused’ are evenly spaced throughout the set, buffered on either side by instrumental songs like the magical ‘Druun.’ ‘How Long have you Known,’ is clearly the band’s best jam, an indie dance floor smasher that stacks melodies on top of each other like Legos.

The band made it through the set with only a few minor stumbles (“Let’s play ‘Oshin.’ Oh. We already played that”), demonstrating that although DIIV’s a young act, it’s one that’s comprised of experienced musicians. Their live set sounds and listens strikingly different than their album, which is noteworthy mainly because their album is extremely good but their show at the Garage is easily one of the best performances from a new band we’ve seen this year.

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