DIIV Citadel High School, Halifax NS, July 8
Published Jul 09, 2016DIIV's sophomore album Is the Is Are arrived in February, following a few years of drama — frontman Zachary Cole Smith's highly publicized arrest alongside girlfriend Sky Ferreira, his (also highly publicized) struggles with addiction, and the offensive online behaviour of bassist Devin Ruben Perez. Then, there was the public and personal pressure to put out an album that held up to 2012's debut Oshin — the delivery of Is the Is Are felt like a gift, then, when it finally arrived.
The band focused primarily on that album during their Gridlock set, opening with title track and scattering others like "Under the Sun," "Mire (Grant's Song)" and "Dust" throughout.
And although the hour-plus tracklisting to Is the Is Are provided the band with plenty of new songs to share, favourite older fare like "Oshin," "How Long Have You Known?" and — as per a fan's request — "Sometime" still managed to work their way into the set.
On stage, the group's ethereal, meandering sound doesn't quite hold the pristine shimmer that it does on record, but the members' jovial energy and the buzz from the live setting added both charm and grit that more than made up for it. Smith himself is mesmerizing to watch, giving off an aura that's equal parts shy (awkwardly and cavalierly introducing "Dopamine" as "a song about doing drugs") and charismatic (cracking dad jokes like, "This one's a cover by a band called DIIV").
Adding to the already engaging performance, videos were cast upon the overhead tent, projecting footage of the band in studio, city traffic, photographs of Kurt Cobain, Ferreira stopping by the studio (and blowing some bubblegum), Beavis and Butthead clips and tons of other oddities that made for an eclectic backdrop.
One tense moment arose when "Healthy Moon" was cut off mid-song amidst unwieldy screeching feedback, with Smith declaring: "Fuck that song." Thankfully, things were quickly righted and the temporary glitch merely served to keep onlookers excited, alert and on their toes. Besides, anything safer and more predictable wouldn't have been nearly as much fun.