The Final Days of 285 Kent – Deafheaven and Wolf Eyes – 1/18/14


Better Than: Every stupid “285 Kent Isn’t Important” thinkpiece.

285 Kent will be mythologized and there’s nothing detrimental about that. The venue had a longer life than was once thought possible for a DIY in this town: if you pass the two year mark, you’re on to something. Somehow Todd P and co were able to make this massive box a second home to many, an illegal DIY space that could effectively make or break bands.

See also: “DIY Will Never Die”: An Exit Interview with 285 Kent’s Ric Leichtung

Places like Austin and New Orleans and Boston complain about house shows being shut down by the cops: New York had a massive warehouse space where once Frank Ocean, Trash Talk and Odd Future all played the same night — and the cops didn’t come. The mythology is justified.

Saturday night’s show was the third in four farewell shows, and the last to sell out, with reason: the lineup was almost entirely noise bands, secret headliner Deafheaven revealed only two days before the show (the gig even had tickets available at the door).

The evening started with a slew of unknown-but-mostly-under-appreciated noise acts: Sugarm, the psychedelic experimental landscapes of Ad Hoc editor Mike Sugarman (Ad Hoc, 285 Kent’s in-house music site), and the ambient industrial noise of Lussuria, who, at one point, sounded like both crystals and glass slamming into metal, repeatedly until becoming the calming sort of abrasive. MV Carbon experimented with tape loop delays by bringing a reel to reel to the stage, and Alberich stuck to form: his noise actually made people move a little back from where they once stood.

The majority of attendees were in it for Wolf Eyes, the first public headliner, and with good reason. Their last album, No Answer : Lower Floors, was one of the most, if not the most heralded noise release of last year, so much so that they packed the massive room quickly. (Anyone who has been to a noise show will know how out of the ordinary that is.)

There was something exceedingly phallic — dare I say cock rock — about their performance Saturday. Soaring guitars, both sonically and literally, toted by Nate Young and crew all in pitch black sunglasses. At times it boarded on ridiculous, sure, but it was a spectacle.

By the time Deafheaven took the stage most of the room had cleared, it was approaching 2:30am at that point, an hour and a half after the allotted time. Anyone with experience at DIY shows knows they never go off on time, but the lateness proved to be a little too much for most.

After a long and successful year of traveling the world with Sunbather, their sophomore LP and greatest effort to date — metal for people who could care less about metal — Deafheaven have become sound perfectionists, actors on a stage.

In the middle of the set, the sound cut out. Frontman George LeSage removed his single black glove, as if to give up, or perhaps the lateness was getting to him too. The band looked frustrated, but dedicated, those exhausted faces in the room left satisfied.

There was a moment of melancholy, walking around the space and watching a band who had a massive year play to the 50 or so who decided to hang around into the wee hours of the morning, but there was also something cathartic and it: if Kent has to die a peaceful death, it should be the kids who are going to stay until they physically cannot stand up any longer. They deserve to be the last ones in the room.

Critical Bias: Last time I saw Deafheaven at 285 Kent was on the 4th of July, a day that began with the band being profiled in my backyard eventually drinking so much that guitarist Kerry McCoy vomited… three times.

Overheard: “I think Rooney Mara is here.” She wasn’t.

Random Notebook Dump: This is probably the only time someone has cried — or said something about feeling like crying — at a noise and metal show.

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