It hasn’t been easy for Division Day. The Los Angeles four-piece (QRO interview) has had to endure a lot of industry struggles, from the disjointed seven long weekends it took to record debut full-length Beartrap Island (QRO review), to the extended search for a label, Eenie Meenie, to splitting with that label – it all came to the point where they weren’t sure if they even wanted to continue as a band. But they kept at it, and put out follow-up Visitation (QRO review) this year, on L.A.’s burgeoning Dangerbird Records (which seems to be snapping up all of the good alt-acts in its city, much like Toronto’s Arts & Crafts is doing in Canada). But even their Visitations tour had some struggles, at least when they came to Brooklyn on Saturday, September 19th – but it’s not like they didn’t persevere.
Division Day’s Brooklyn show was originally scheduled for Bell House (QRO venue review), but thanks to Eugene Mirman’s multi-day Comedy Festival taking place there, they were bumped down to the smaller sister-venue, Union Hall (QRO venue review), where they did a residency – almost two years ago. But the landlord from Flight of the Conchords (QRO live review) wasn’t done yet, as an early Comedy Festival event at Union Hall proceeded to bump Division Day’s show to a late 9:00 PM doors. On tour with labelmates Bad Veins (QRO photos), they switched slots so Division Day wouldn’t be going on as late, but it somewhat gave the impression that Division Day were opening for the younger, undeservedly-hyped Bad Veins. And even when Division Day’s hour came, they still waited a bit, seemingly hoping for more of a turnout.
But Division Day thankfully isn’t one of those ubiquitous party-rock bands that need a crazy crowd, but an expansive-yet-driving, truly indie outfit – which is actually a more forceful presence. They started off with "Visitation", and naturally stuck mostly to the new album of the same name. While one couldn’t help but feel that they would have been better in the larger Bell House, reaching to its rafters (and not limited by Union Hall’s low basement ceiling & pillars), Division Day seemed to improve upon every Visitation track, giving it the extra energy & emotion one just can’t get from a record. The band mixed it up a bit in the back half of the set, first with "a slow one" ("So find a dancing partner…"), "Azalean" (following "Malachite", in sort of a one-two of pseudo-biblical demons/kids from Children of the Corn…), and then hit up their first Beartrap piece, "Littleblood". But Division Day ended on maybe the best songs from each record, first Beartrap‘s ultra-driving "Ricky" (which did stand out a bit, thanks to its faster tempo – one could tell that it wasn’t from the same record as most of the rest of the set), and then closing with Visitation‘s "Devil Light", whose dark echo into something grand reverberated even in Union Hall’s tiny downstairs.
Division Day playing "Littleblood" live at Union Hall in Brooklyn, NY on September 19th, 2009:
Division Day have had a few sweet moments of fleeting success, like having their picture in The New York Times‘ 2006 CMJ (QRO Festival Guide) recap, or, more recently, being name-checked in the CW’s new version of 90210 (so when will they play The Peach Pit?…), but they deserve more, much more – not just because of their struggles (many, many a-band have endured that & worse), but because of their music.