“What the fuck’s going on?” asks a frustrated Zachary Cole Smith of a group of young, confused technicians as they continue to struggle to conquer the age-old technology of the DVD projector – supposed portal to the imagination of the Brooklyn darling and 21st century poster boy for rock-’n-roll tragedy. Following roughly six-dozen comedic demands from an impatient Smith to “turn the front of the lens” in order to focus the imagery, particles fly across the stage of Manchester’s Gorilla in desired VHS quality to the soundtrack of an obligatory bass-run of The Stone Roses favourite ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, and after a long wait the Vicodin haze of the abstractions are finally mirrored by the oceanic endlessness of instrumental ‘(Drunn Pt.II)’. The time has come, and we’re all ready to sink into the colour-wheel world of DIIV.

Smith explores all angles of what he describes as “the worst, most terrible and greatest period of my life” on the band’s recently released follow-up to 2012’s ‘Oshin’, ‘Is the Is Are’ – a record that touches on addiction, recovery, morality and love. The same tension of energies bleed into the evening as the set feels akin to admiring the iridescence of a shard of fluorite. Moments of euphoric clarity, such as the sky-sized ‘Loose Ends’ or crystalline title-track ‘Is The Is Are’, are quickly muddied by drone and fuzz in the form of the momentous ‘Dopamine’ and 16 second epic ‘(Fuck)’, until Smith warns us all that “this is where it gets dark”, and with darkness chaos commonly follows. Guitars trade melodies and madness on ‘Oshin’ until Smith’s lead reaches from beneath the sound collage and wills the audience to part the sea.

Gifted with a moment to admire the atmosphere, thanks to the stillness provided by the black hole that seems to be opening up in the centre of the room, I notice the band trading sinister smiles, beaming with the awareness that in the next few moments the waves of audience – restless, feral and temporarily restrained, will break. Between Atlantic incline, ‘Oshin’s lethargic incantation washes over the crowd, and as Smith hushes the words “pull me under in your flood” the spell is complete and we’re all trapped in the vortex.

I sit soaked, bloody, and beaten on the train home, and as I try to catch my breath I feel eyes all over me. I turn to my right to be greeted by a fellow passenger wearing a look of deadly concern – painted with questions of what happened, and I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in that moment as the experience would have been wasted if I walked away from Manchester’s Gorilla as I walked in. I truly sampled the atmosphere of DIIV this evening, and it was in equal measures violent, beautiful and vicious.

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James Musker

Music Journalism student and lover of all things sensory and cosmic.