Despite being around for more over a decade, Thursday, 14th March 2024 marked DIIV’s first ever headline show in Ireland. Having cancelled a couple of tours at the midway point, owing to frontman Zachary Cole Smith’s addiction issues and ensuing legal problems, the band have finally come back to make amends.

This show, the last in DIIV’s European touring cycle, comes in the wake of the release of Brown Paper Bag. The song itself is a gorgeous, slow burning slice of shoegaze – moving at a glacial pace and boasting incandescent glide guitar. Its music video hints at the themes explored on the band’s upcoming album, ‘Frog In Boiling Water’.

Taking its name from Daniel Quinn’s story ‘The Boiling Frog’, a metaphor about societal collapse under late-stage capitalism, the music video parodies late-night sketch comedy staple Saturday Night Live, before the ceiling collapses, giving way to an advertisement of the band’s Soul-Net website.

The night began with an effervescent set from support act Efé. Her music, a perfect blend of ‘90s R&B and alternative rock, set a perfect tone for what was to follow. Efé herself is growing into a captivating performer in her own right, commanding participation from the growing Dublin crowd.

Queasy bass pulses that gave way to ambient sounds and a surreal, cultish infomercial signalled the main attraction’s arrival, “Let the music guide you, transform you and elevate you to heights beyond what you thought were possible” said the mysterious guru, before the band took to the stage. Smith’s own greeting was more muted and humble. “Hello, thank you, we’re DIIV.”

As the band kicked off with the engrossing Like Before You Were Born, the audience were treated to a multimedia presentation. Projected images of holy candles, wing mirrors, endless highways, tour performances and candid backstage antics all distort and blur into one another on a backdrop screen. The band seem content to provide a soundtrack, lost in the music and the otherwise dim backlight.

That’s not to say the band themselves aren’t charismatic. Smith sways, creening upwards to the microphone like a strange antithesis to the laddishness of Liam Gallagher or the rockism of Lemmy. Guitarist Andrew Bailey, meanwhile, stands almost completely upright, pulling his guitar closer to him with each downstroke.

While the band’s most recent offering ‘Deceiver’ takes the lion’s share of the setlist, plenty of new material is scattered through the band’s set. Soul-Net is pre-empted by the same infomercial that bookends the Brown Paper Bag music video. Its drum machines and ethereal guitars give an almost trip hop feel, a solid indicator of the varied and essential listen that ‘Frog In Boiling Water’ is set to be for DIIV fan’s old and new.

Soul-Net and other new songs are aided by onscreen lyric projections and visualisers, hinting at the album’s socially conscious subject matter. “Remember they told us a tide would lift our boats / That ocean has dried up, now I can’t look away… / In anger, I want to disappear” whispers Smith on a newer cut.

“Out with the new, in with the old” Smith declares before playing Air Conditioning, one of the band’s oldest songs. To listen to earlier DIIV albums, there’s as much in common with the monochromatic efficiency of post-punk revivalists such as Protomartyr or Preoccupations as there is the kaleidoscopic, ethereal haze of My Bloody Valentine.

The influence of the latter, however, lends itself well to DIIV’s political bent. Shoegaze has never been known for being politically conscious, but DIIV wrap layers of guitar and melodic drone around tales of societal pacification and malaise. “Put a smile on my face / My home in flames / My past erased / I’ll embrace my mistakes another day,” Smith softly croons on Brown Paper Bag, the crowd’s attention split between the band’s stoic stance and the on-screen presentation.

Another surreal infomercial signals the band’s encore, which included a high octane performance of old favourite Doused. It’s tracks like those that best showcase the band’s diversity – flitting between hazy dream pop and propulsive post-punk with ease.

It may have taken the band a while, but Thursday night was worth the wait. And, coming almost five years after the band’s opus ‘Deceiver’, ‘Frog In Boiling Water’ seems like it will be, too.