Photograph by Tom Pavlich
Over the past few years, David Glickman’s been one of the writers whose career I’ve greatly enjoyed watching become gradually more impressive. From running his own small blog to joining the staff of The Daily Texan to earning bylines for places like MRR, Impose, and Pitchfork, it’s been heartening to see people recognize his talent and grant him the opportunities he deserves. An incredibly supportive voice in the DIY punk community and a versatile writer, it’s a privilege to once again be featuring one of his pieces in A Year’s Worth of Memories. Here, he takes a look back at being moved by a headlining performance from Deafheaven. Read it below and remember that effort can yield staggering rewards.
When you decided to make music the defining quality of your life, it can be hard to pull out a singular moment as the one that defined a year. They stack and build on each other, coalescing into something larger.
Do I talk about getting to see Kraftwerk put on a two and half hour 3-D spectacle that ranks as one of the best I’ve ever seen? About dancing front row at the PC Music showcase during SXSW with my friends Adam and Sasha, battling heat and exhaustion for five hours? Flying to New York City on a whim and getting to Perfect Pussy play for the first time in a year and half, getting to re-experience the euphoria their performances incur? Or something like letting six Swedish strangers stay in your tiny, one bedroom apartment for four days, discovering just how wonderful they are, and getting to seem them blow everyone away each time they performed?
But I think the moment that hovers in my brain was finally getting to see Deafheaven perform.
Technically I had gotten to seem them already, but a 3:30pm festival slot in nothing compared to seeming them play in the middle of the night, for as long as they like. It was a free event, guaranteeing a big crowd at the Mohawk that November night. The moment they began the crowd charged forward to the stage. They didn’t operate like a regular mosh pit; everyone smashing against each other to try to grasp onto singer George Clarke in some capacity. They were drawn to him like he was a metal Morrissey, twirling and twisting between his screams about losing his connection to life.
It was one of the most painful concert experiences of my life. The band played on and on, through all of New Bermuda, while legs were trampled and people leapt off stage over and over again into a crowd that was never paying attention at the right time. I recall falling, and ten over people falling down with me, we were all so close together. Yet at the same time it was an amazing show. The band sounded amazing; hearing the solos from “Brought to the Water” and “Gifts For the Earth” made something inside you swell. Clarke as frontman, as a performer, was memorizing; strutting and dancing and never stopping, knowing exactly how to bring the crowd to him and when exactly to pull back.
As the set proceeded he reached out to the crowd more and more, and I got closer to the stage.
The band began playing “Sunbather” during their encore, and I remember hitting this point of exhaustion. I gave up, and decided to let the mass of people around me just take me. I fell backwards, yet didn’t fall due to some bodies behind me. Clarke is hanging over the crowd screaming his vocals, and the adoring masses are trying to reach for him, everyone canceling out each other’s attempts. And so as I have stood there with bent knees trying not fall, I look directly up I see Clarke’s face surrounded by black, directly above me, just singing with more passion than I ever thought possible from one person. Few concert experiences will ever be able to live up to that moment.
The funny thing is I got to hang out with the band after the show, practically by accident, at goth club across the street. And they were some of the kindest, warmest people I have met. I went from seeing them perform one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, to chatting with some goofballs about metal and dancing to Cocteau Twins songs. I got to hang out with some more wonderful people. And that might have been the best part of the evening.
2015 was a strange year, as every year has been for me since I turned 12. I began to edge out of school and closer into the murky void that is one’s early twenties. I took on new friends, new stresses, new jobs. I began writing about music on a semi-professional level, which is still something I can’t believe has happened (to Liz Pelly and Sam Lefebvre, I am forever indebted to you for letting some wide eyed kid write about some music that he liked). More than anything, I can actually look at 2015 as a year I grew, in whatever small capacity. It’s surreal and slightly scary, and I don’t know how to process it, but I’ll take it nonetheless.