When I walked into the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Thursday evening for a “secret” Deftones concert hosted by Heaven by Marc Jacobs, the first person I made eye contact with was the indie-sleaze-era party photographer Mark Hunter, aka the Cobrasnake.
This event was, after all, an intentional time-warp. Inside, Hunter’s camera flashes were far from the only ones lighting up the venue; more beamed out from disposable Kodaks, mid-aughts digital point-and-shoots, vintage camcorders, and at least one actual flip phone. The main attraction was a potent symbol of Heaven’s mission towards intergenerational nostalgia: a performance by the Sacramento alt-metal band beloved by cuspy Gen Xers and elder millennials and recently embraced by Zoomers, who now make TikToks showcasing their own visual transformations before (bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, normal) and after (disaffected, a little demonic, slightly goth) they started listening to Deftones. The concert was in anticipation of the first drop of a themed clothing collaboration between the band; Heaven, the Marc Jacobs sub-brand; and the 2010s-era streetwear label Stray Rats that went on sale Friday. The collection features a $150 mesh jersey printed with the Around the Fur album artwork, a $75 “Shove It” necklace, and a handful of logo ringer tees priced around $100.
The show followed Heaven’s viral ad campaign centering on a panoramic photo digitally juxtaposing a whopping 54 models, most of them familiar-faced Gen Z internet stars, as though they had all gathered together on one long, denim-blue couch. They were joined by Jacobs himself, plus a handful of other Gen X icons like designer Anna Sui and the actors Michael Imperioli, Tara Reid, and James Duvall of Gregg Araki’s Teenage Apocalypse trilogy. (Since the campaign made the rounds on the internet earlier this week, a new term has emerged to characterize this sort of friends-of-the-brand marketing move: “cloutbombing.”) The brand commissioned a series of yearbook portraits featuring students from Laguardia High School—the New York City performing-arts institution featured in Fame that counts Adrian Brody, Nicki Minaj, and Timothée Chalamet among its many famous (actual) alumni—wearing clothes from the capsule.
Gen Z has flocked to Heaven, which Marc Jacobs launched in 2020, for its relatively affordable designer offerings, which are heavily inspired by the ’90s and 2000s: acid-hued knits, baby tees, punky accessories, and baggy printed denim. As British Vogue’s fashion features editor, Laura Hawkins, recently described it: “I’m a touch too young to remember the spring/summer 1993 grunge collection that got Marc Jacobs fired from Perry Ellis, but his Heaven line has all the Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love-centric, camo-and-cartoon-print and tongue-in-cheek wit that I need.” At the Heaven flagship store on Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, you can buy actual CDs and vintage issues of magazines like i_D or The Face.
Heaven has positioned itself as a freaky utopian bridge between Generations X, Millennial, and Z, all of which yearn, in different ways, for bygone analog eras. The couch viral campaign, capped off with a stone-faced Imperioli in a ribcage-printed zip-up hoodie, is a great visualization of this—as a star of The White Lotus, already a defining show of the 2020s, as well as The Sopranos, the defining show of the 2000s, the actor makes for a perfectly wacky Heaven ambassador. In the Heaven universe, a Deftones concert is like a handshake emoji 🤝 across several generations who all seem to really identify with Imperioli’s troubled Sopranos character Christopher Moltisanti. (One could also imagine that, if The Sopranos took place in the 2020s, Moltisani’s teen second cousin AJ Soprano would probably be making TikToks while wearing a Heaven by Marc Jacobs x Deftones T-shirt.)
Several Heaven couch campaign stars were buzzing around the balcony before the show started, along with a handful of very now scenesters: the experimental musician Yves Tumor (who’d performed a pre-show DJ set), art critic Dean Kissick, photographer Quil Lemons, artist-model Parker Kit Hill, and a bevy of popular New York-based TikTokkers including TinyJewishGirl (whose real name is Clara Perlmutter) and Blizzy McGuire (who, once upon a time, created the “Christian Girl Autumn” meme). Also present: the young culture writer Rayne Fisher-Quann, who once inadvertently became the Zoomer face of a Gen X-versus-Gen Z Deftones meme.
Historically, music fans and concertgoers—especially at nu-metal shows—would have been able to identify each other by a shared uniform. But the vibes here were all over the place. People were dressed like they’d just emerged from 1977 or 1997 or 2007, channeling an improbable mix of ’90s mall rats, Y2K baddies, late-stage Ozzfest attendees, Laurel Canyon groupies, indie-sleaze club kids, dedicated Pitchfork readers, and Sailor Moon cosplayers. In a sea of Evan Mock and Demna lookalikes, there was also a magnetic duo sporting perfect shag haircuts, retro jackets, and flared jeans. The only common factor was anything-goes. The room cracked open at the opening thrash of Deftones’ recent track “Genesis,” which sent everyone on the balcony scurrying to the railing. (“I reject both sides of what I’m being told,” the lyrics begin.) The moshing was mild, but the head-banging was euphoric.