Deafheaven Adelaide Hall, Toronto ON, June 20

Deafheaven Adelaide Hall, Toronto ON, June 20
Photo: Shane Parent
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There are many ways to describe Deafheaven — both their music and the band themselves — but intense does it quite succinctly. Singer George Clarke could be seen smiling and chatting with fans in the front row, but after the band took the stage he'd gone through an Iggy Pop-like transformation. Gone was the affable guy we'd seen a minute before; now, Clarke was tense and staring daggers, a sonic conductor (he could be seen counting the beat with his hand several times) leading the flailing bodies in the mosh pit through a sea of noise.
 
While Clarke masqueraded in front, the rest of the quintet set to work recreating the dense sounds of their recordings. Even the band's quieter moments were laden with a heaviness that wouldn't subside. For all the black metal riffing, it was the post-hardcore breakdowns that proved to be the evening's most electrifying moments.
 
It's a bit disheartening that the band play with backing tracks — interludes like "Irresistible" were pumped through the P.A. But when your songs are almost exclusively ten-minutes-plus, the band deserve a break.
 
Even with most of the band's backs turned to the crowd, Clarke never broke character. Reaching out to the crowd, beckoning them forward, but always appearing just slightly distant. This aloofness only fed the crowds energy, building them up to their own crescendo. It's rare to see the barriers between audience and performer become this blurred, but clearly it's what drives a band like Deafheaven.