DIIV, Horse Jumper of Love, Dutch Interior

Tue Jul 16 2024

8:00 PM (Doors 7:00 PM)

Howard Theatre

620 T Street NW Washington D.C., DC 20001

$32.00 - $50.00

All Ages

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Union Stage Presents:
DIIV, Horse Jumper of Love, Dutch Interior

  • DIIV

    DIIV

    Alternative Rock

    Four years into making their fourth album, Frog in Boiling Water, the four members of DIIV needed to talk—not later, but now.

    The extended process had been uncertain and sometimes grueling, not only pushing them to up their musicianship but also taxing most every resource and bond they had ever cultivated. During the prior decade, DIIV had helped revitalize dream-pop and shoegaze alike, culminating in 2019’s unapologetic genre showcase, Deceiver. But with it, DIIV were now out of contract, proverbial free agents who didn’t owe anything to anyone but themselves—that is, to make a record that challenged them, that pushed their sound beyond any previous parameters.

    But after all that collective toil, their relationships with one another were fraying badly inside that singular alchemical state of being a band, where dynamics of family, friendship, and finances become entangled in a Gordian knot. There were suspicions and resentments, bruised egos and anxious questions, all fingerprints left by a quest that demanded DIIV grow both together and apart. So on June 1, 2023, just before they began to mix four years of effort, DIIV—Andrew Bailey, Colin Caulfield, Ben Newman, and Zachary Cole Smith—gathered in Echo Park Lake, the scene of so many halcyon hangs in their early days, under vaguely gray skies to air accumulated grievances. They dropped the shields of professionalism that had let them work amid the rancor and allowed themselves to get mad and bummed, real and vulnerable. Really, it could have broken DIIV before Frog in Boiling Water was finished.
    This fireside, however tense, worked: DIIV eventually finished Frog in Boiling Water. It is a gorgeous and haunted record, as DIIV gaze into our collective oblivion and try to articulate a trace of hope inside that enveloping gloom. Balancing rhythms first built from breakbeats and inspired by post-industrial power with guitars and vocals that often billow like diaphanous drapery, Frog in Boiling Water is mighty but breezy, greyscale but opalescent. “Reflected,” for instance, surges through softness, reckoning with the lies we tell ourselves to survive while wondering if they still serve us. “Brown Paper Bag” funnels dejection and angst into an exquisite intersection of dream-pop and post-rock, a wispy tune stretching from a steely foundation. Though DIIV helped to foster a shoegaze scene that has since swept up many imaginations, they rose above it despite nearly falling apart. On these 10 songs, they brood beautifully inside music that frets about the present and future—but at least acknowledges it can still exist.

    The instant DIIV finished Deceiver in early 2019, they were ready to run it back, to make another live-in-the-room record as soon as possible. The sessions had been brief and efficient, the four members in newfound lockstep. Could they amplify that feeling? They never got the chance. With the world upended, every member began working on their own pieces, individual tastes accreting into a mountain of material so large they began to grade each item, A to F. They daydreamed about what the pieces might eventually make, sometimes discarding the notion of a “rock record” for one made with computers and samples or sometimes pondering something as heavy and blissful as Justin K. Broadrick’s Jesu. There were samples, tape machines, breakbeats: Everything seemed possible, open, new.

    DIIV had once been hamstrung by obdurate headlines, gossip about Smith’s personal problems often overshadowing the work of the cohesive, smart rock quartet they had gradually become. What’s more, Smith co-founded United Musicians and Allied Workers, an organization devoted to wresting power away from an entertainment oligarchy. Principles from both scenarios—no hierarchy and equal participation, no overriding frontman but instead four people interacting in full—had become central to DIIV’s approach, prompting them to move as a democracy more than ever before.

    This equitable approach created inevitable strain, especially when DIIV finally rendezvoused in early 2022 to figure out how all their enthusiasms could cohere. They decamped to a rented home in the Mojave, guitars, recording gear, and a clutch of books about humanity’s failures, psychological warfare, and Zen poetry in tow. They worked 13 hours a day for 10 days straight, so taxed as they tried to circle a sound that Caulfield earned himself a case of nicotine poisoning. They hoped to finish the bulk of the record there, to capture a room sound that felt ineffable. But stress mounted as they struggled to solidify what their fourth album could be, to funnel their individual passions into a collective whole that also said something about our precarious moment. They headed home without a record.

    Adding another strong perspective did not alleviate this tension, but it did help break the stalemate. For DIIV, working with producer Chris Coady—whose records with the likes of Beach House and Blonde Redhead were mutual lodestars—was fittingly aspirational. They felt they would need to rise to his level. In September 2022, as they began religiously tracking six days a week at his home studio for the next nine months, he became the de facto fifth member, joining existential debates about DIIV’s direction and how to get there. He switched sides as he saw fit.

    Even when the conflicts felt insurmountable, with five personalities vying for a say in DIIV’s future, they all showed up and tried, anyway. They all worked to get better, too. Sometimes that meant Newman was up at 7 a.m. to practice breakbeats created by some of the best drummers in the world. Sometimes that meant Coady setting up a tape machine in his backyard, Bailey filling it with warped tape samples that DIIV could then weave into the worlds they were trying to build. And Smith became a father in November 2022, prompting a three-month pause as he wrestled with a central, difficult question at home: How could he lyrically conjure a dystopia with a newborn in the house, or pair the new hope he had with an honest assessment of the world he knew? It all felt like that midair moment during a complicated skateboard trick, wondering if you have what it takes to land the thing.

    Again, they did: These songs mine a new lyrical and musical depth, those two halves mirroring one another inside a reflective and immersive whole. Opener “In Amber,” for instance, offers an internal existential debate about slipping out of this world, of shaking off its turmoil. The downtrodden guitars of Smith and Bailey perfectly paint this feeling for the first half, but they lift together toward the end, an act of resistance against abject despair.

    Or there’s the way that Newman and Caulfield conjure a very warped and muted funk inside the rhythm section of “Soul-Net,” a prime canvas for Smith’s character study about those who have found meaning for a vacuous life through online conspiracy theories. Here is our suffering, sold and weaponized against us inside endless rabbit holes. They ride this haze into panoramic finale “Fender on the Freeway,” a chiming drift that steadily tightens and coils like a ripple of lean muscle. “You can’t unring a bell,” Smith sings, voice soft-lidded but suppliant. “We live in heaven, and we live in hell.” That is the contrast that every song on Frog in Boiling Water frames so well—the darkness of these days, an appreciation of existence itself.

    On that afternoon in Echo Park, the future seemed very much in doubt for DIIV. They were exhausted, broke, and bruised, having spent four years in a four-way trust fall without knowing how it might end. Voicing concerns doesn’t always fix them, of course, but could they understand one another enough to carry on, together? They did, finally starting the process of finishing Frog in Boiling Water in the days that followed. Still, everyone in DIIV will tell you now that those conflicts—the natural result of four people whose lives have become so intertwined, trying to make art that speaks to humanity’s current place on a complicated precipice—still exist. To some extent, they remain an engine inside of their art.

    That is, in many ways, the essence of Frog in Boiling Water, a record about doing your best to carry on in spite of oft-grim prospects. While making Frog in Boiling Water, DIIV taxed their bonds and brotherhood, pushing themselves to the brink as a band, as buds. The result, however, is a mesmeric testament to enduring, to envisioning anything else on the other side while you remain here, in the slowly heating water of right now.

  • Horse Jumper of Love

    Horse Jumper of Love

    Shoegaze

    2022 saw the release of Horse Jumper of Love’s latest full-length, Natural Part, and now less than a year later, the band are back with an unexpected new release. Heartbreak Rules is a mini-album of sorts: a collection of eight completely fresh songs, two reimagined versions of standout tracks from Natural Part, and a cover of The Smashing Pumpkins classic, “Luna.” But the most striking thing about Heartbreak Rules is the volume–or more specifically, the lack of it. This is a sparse, intimate version of Horse Jumper of Love, one that forgoes the waves of fuzz and feedback, and instead highlights the indelible songwriting at the core of their music. 

    Heartbreak Rules was written and recorded solely by vocalist/guitarist Dimitri Giannopoulos, but it is undeniably a Horse Jumper of Love release. “When I started writing, I didn’t really know what it would be,” he explains. “I went into it with no intentions.” Seeking a creative outlet during the pandemic, Giannopoulos decamped to the Catskills with engineer and longtime band collaborator, Bradford Kreeger, and the pair spent five days casually recording what would become Heartbreak Rules. “It was really fun, we were drinking heavily and grilling steaks,” Giannopoulos laughs, adding, “We only brought the bare minimum stuff: a practice amp, a midi keyboard, a very spare drum kit. The low key vibe just made the songs sound great to me because I knew I was in a good headspace.”

    That laidback and peaceful feeling comes through in Heartbreak Rules’ hushed and unvarnished recordings, making the expert songcraft shine through even more. “As I play music more, I just want to play quieter,” Giannopoulos says. “We’re rehearsing these songs as a full band now and we’re not blasting our amps like we used to–it feels really good. I think it has to do with our confidence level at this point. I used to play loud because I wasn’t confident in my vocal delivery or my lyrics, and now I want to showcase those things.” 

    The eight new songs on Heartbreak Rules accomplish just that, with the minimal arrangements and earworm melodies of the title track, “A Tune Drifts Out The Window,” or “Snake Eyes” metamorphosing  Giannopoulos into an otherworldly acoustic balladeer. Elsewhere, “Queenie’s Necklace” and “Pendulum” still manage to incorporate the elements of dissonance and tension that are essential to Horse Jumper of Love’s sound, now only made more effective by the sense of space and distance within the recordings. Giannopoulos provides his surrealist musings on family, friendship, vices, and the unpredictability of life–his voice and lyrics confidently upfront in the mix as he paints pictures with words just as vivid as the melodies that carry them.

    Heartbreak Rules ends with the hazy cover of “Luna,” an early Horse Jumper of Love recording from nearly ten years ago. Unearthed from Giannopoulos’ collection of old Tascam tapes, the track is gauzy and relaxed, but also a fitting line between the band’s past and their future. “Recording these new songs sort of reminded me of how I used to do things. It was like a callback to how fun that looseness could be. These songs really just feel like they’re for me because they weren’t written with the studio or playing live in mind. There was no pressure around them.” Luckily these songs aren’t just for Giannopoulos, they’re the essential next step for Horse Jumper of Love and we all get to follow their Heartbreak Rules. 

  • Dutch Interior

    Dutch Interior

    Rock

    Los Angeles based “Freak Americana” project, Dutch Interior, brings collaborative and earnest songwriting under a veil of classic Americana melancholy for their latest album, Blinded by Fame, the six-piece’s first release since 2021’s demo album Kindergarten

    Dutch Interior began as an aimless, decentralized recording project shared between longtime friends in the isolation of early 2020 centered around an 8-track set up on their living room floor.  At this point, there was no band, there were no members, no one had an official instrument, there was no “lead singer”, and there was never any intention of releasing anything concrete. 

    Post-COVID, the formation of a coherent lineup of full time members saw the band play their first round of live shows and begin work on their second album, Blinded by Fame. Recorded and produced by Dutch Interior in their home studio via an 8-track tape machine & board, the band leaned into the limitations of analog recording techniques to create a stripped back & earnest sound.

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limit 6 per person
General Admission

First come, first served standing section in front of the stage.

$32.00
Premier Balcony Row Seat

First come, first served seating at the front of the balcony.

$50.00
Balcony Bar Seat

First come, first served bar seating at the back of the balcony.

$50.00
Premier Floor Booth for 4

Booths are preassigned and your party will be directed to your booth at arrival. You must buy the entire booth and the price listed is per seat.

$50.00
Premier Balcony Booth for 4

Booths are preassigned and your party will be directed to your booth at arrival. You must buy the entire booth and the price listed is per seat.Booths are preassigned. Venue staff will assist you with finding your seats. You must buy the entire booth

$50.00
Premier Balcony Booth for 6

Booths are preassigned. Venue staff will assist you with finding your seats. You must buy the entire booth and the price listed is per seat.

$50.00

Delivery Method

ticketFast
Union Stage Presents:

DIIV, Horse Jumper of Love, Dutch Interior

Tue Jul 16 2024 8:00 PM

(Doors 7:00 PM)

Howard Theatre Washington D.C. DC
DIIV, Horse Jumper of Love, Dutch Interior

$32.00 - $50.00 All Ages

Please correct the information below.

Select ticket quantity.

Complete the security check.

Select Tickets

All Ages
limit 6 per person
General Admission info
First come, first served standing section in front of the stage.
$32.00
Premier Balcony Row Seat info
First come, first served seating at the front of the balcony.
$50.00
Balcony Bar Seat info
First come, first served bar seating at the back of the balcony.
$50.00
Premier Floor Booth for 4 info
Booths are preassigned and your party will be directed to your booth at arrival. You must buy the entire booth and the price listed is per seat.
$50.00
Premier Balcony Booth for 4 info
Booths are preassigned and your party will be directed to your booth at arrival. You must buy the entire booth and the price listed is per seat.Booths are preassigned. Venue staff will assist you with finding your seats. You must buy the entire booth
$50.00
Premier Balcony Booth for 6 info
Booths are preassigned. Venue staff will assist you with finding your seats. You must buy the entire booth and the price listed is per seat.
$50.00

Delivery Method

ticketFast