Now where does this hype stem from? Sure, the band is good. Sure, the singer looks cute. Sure, it's a Beach Fossils side-project. Sure, the record is on Captured Tracks and has been receiving rave reviews. But did this warrant the frenzy that was surrounding this gig? Probably not, and yet, it felt good to know young people could get this excited about a band playing in town, about a gig at a bar. There is something profoundly reassuring about this.
Before the gig even started I overheard a conversation in which three young lads were bragging about drunkeness in various places and to various degrees. When the band played, little girls in front row were taking close-ups of singer Z. Cole Smith. I was suddenly transported back to my high school days - the audience was that young and easy to impress.
For a minute, I was almost disappointed when the group hit the small, low stage. Where were the hipster rock stars I was expecting? Where was the supergroup that everybody was going crazy for? These boys just looked like your average college band in grunge dress. These guys were just young kids in a band. Then it hit me: that was the reason for the hype. So many bands just now are special and cool and hip. Maybe music listeners just want a band to admire. Like the fans of Oasis, of the Smiths, of Fleetwood Mac, of the Kinks before them. DIIV fulfil that criteria. They don't pretend to be DJs at the same time, or dabble in fashion, or wear sunglasses onstage to distant them from the audience. They simply play music, they rock out, they are pop and accesible, they are likeable. And maybe they are a little overwhelmed with the response they are receiving, which makes them even more likeable.
Musically, we were given the wavey indie pop we had expected, and may I add: played to perfection. In a world of lo-fi garage rock and electronic mash-ups, the professionalism and tightness of this group were a welcome surprise. They are clearly influenced by The Smiths and remind me quite a bit of The Drums, though not nearly as slick and with a lot more 90s rock à la Dinosaur Jr mixed in. There is that welcome element of 90s guitar rock added that you will not find in the clean 80s sound of The Drums. DIIV play with melodies and hooks but add long instrumental passages and will at times even rock dirty on the floor. It is pop but it's cool and rock at the same time.
I have to say, I am so grateful to have been able to witness this at Monarch, not at Lido, Astra or Columbiaclub (where I am anticipating their return to Berlin could head). It was comfortable, cozy and personal, but there was also that distinct buzz of knowing this band is going somewhere, yet we are all here mere feet away, en par, dancing our little socks off, smiling. I am seldomly in favour of encores. That night I wanted more. A wonderful night.