"The wave finally broke, and those at the front gave in to the urge to move. The circle got wider and when the final bar cut out the release was palpable."
Step-Panther warmed up, but the set never caught fire. Their bass player Zach Stephenson was stuck in Bali, leaving it up to a large dude with dreads to slug it out. They've never been famous for being polished, so they didn't disappoint when their dirgy garage slopped all over the place. The issue is that they occasionally edge towards a more powerful adult sound, but they refuse to let go of their juvenile tendency to celebrate mediocrity. Their set made you want to shake them and demand better.
DIIV's set was satisfying in so many ways. Their playing was immaculate, with Zachary Cole Smith and Andrew Bailey's dense riffing dovetailing each other over and over again. The cuts were deep, including their first singles Sometime and Human and tour rarity Yr Not Far, a sullen slog, but interesting in its details. The woozy circular dream pop of Dopamine was quicker and rougher than it should have been as the band picked up the pace. On closing the set with Doused the wave finally broke, and those at the front gave in to the urge to move. The circle got wider and when the final bar cut out the release was palpable.
Smith has stated that a lot hinged on his new album being good: "If I [don't] make a good record, then I'm done. That's it. I'm fucked." His efforts resulted in a 17-track monster, a record of rare length in a time when both guitar-led rock and even the album format itself is in question. It's a doozy, no doubt, but hearing it played live in amongst so many songs from previous releases, it's hard to hear the differences that reflect so much anguish and focus. The show was a constant whirlwind of crystalline guitar conversations with an obsidian alt-rock backbone, with no radical style changes from old material to new. It was never a question of quality, just one of perseverance. Maybe one day the rest of the world will come around to (or back to; it's hard to deny DIIV's retro leanings) Smith's brand of music.