The following is a guest post by By Jordan J. Michael.
Music can sound really huge. It can reach cosmic levels. Just close your eyes and let the intensity swell over you.
I once found myself in a debate about what “epic” music sounds like. Band names akin to Arcade Fire, Tool, My Bloody Valentine, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor were thrown around. What about Frankie Rose or DIIV?
Playing Valentine’s on Thursday night, these two Brooklyn bands reached epic heights. The downstairs of Valentine’s is small, but DIIV and Frankie Rose sounded enormous. It was even bigger when I closed my eyes.
Frankie Rose, known for her work with Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, and Vivian Girls, ended the show with “Save Me.” The song was rather calm until it busted into the most mammoth sound of the night. Many “OMG” faces were seen in the crowd as the noise got louder and louder, and then the set was over.
Rose said that about 15 people came to Valentine’s to watch her play last time, but a much larger number was here on Thursday. “My goal is to make music that’s a wash,” she said. “I want separation and dynamics. The small parts are small, but when you go into a huge epic part of the song, it feels really huge. Space is equally as important as something being loud and large.”
DIIV didn’t even have an album for sale (Oshin, due out on June 26) but people seemed to be anticipating their set. The band has been acclaimed by Pitchfork, so maybe that had something to do with the following. Cole Smith and his three other band mates were intense and meticulous with their playing, but there wasn’t much progression. Smith’s lyrics didn’t change and neither did the bass lines. They didn’t have to because what they were going with was working to extraordinary effect.
DIIV used to be called Dive, but Smith recently changed the name because 10 other bands are called Dive. He didn’t want the name to create a problem. He mentioned the original Dive, which was a European project started by Dirk Ivens of Absolute Body Control, The Few, and Fad Gadget. “I knew it would eventually be a problem,” Smith said of the name Dive. “Honestly, the name is so immaterial that I don’t care at all, but it got to the point where our record would be coming out, so I was like, ‘fuck it,’ let’s change it now.”
DIIV is a word and a number. Smith said he originally got the name from the Nirvana song “Dive.” Does a name even matter?
“We were always influenced by water,” Smith said. “The band is just really informed by the water. That’s the product –– capturing this huge totality of water.”
DIIV could definitely be filed under a shoegaze or krautrock category; no real progression, just building to an immense state of music. Smith said he would know “epic” music if he ever heard it, but he’s never been involved in a debate about it. “I had a meeting with a licensing company for commercials, music that’s good in commercials,” he said. “Turns out, people like to hear music that progresses, changes over time. Our music doesn’t do that.”
No problem. It was a crowd pleaser. A mantra.
“We’re trying to be as intense as possible,” Smith said. “Performing in front of people is serious, but also pretty lighthearted. We’re making a ton of noise. It’s funny.”
It was so funny that I almost cried at the beauty of the music.
Frankie Rose, cute as a button, took the stage with a complaint. Pierced Arrows was playing upstairs, but she wished they were watching her set. Pierced Arrows probably didn’t know who Frankie Rose was, but they should.
Again, music with not much progression, but it was dreamy, loud, and full of heart. The vocal harmonies were the highlight. Rose’s face brimmed with every vocal note. She was focused, and her three-piece band backed her up perfectly.
“Tonight was really great,” said Rose, who dedicates a song to DIIV’s drummer every night. “I play music from my heart.”