Monday, 19 November 2012

I've Seen Footage: A Death Grips Live Review

-5th November, The Fleece Bristol

In a word? Possessed. For all the redeeming features attributed to Death Grips poster boy MC Ride, it would seem that possessed is the most fitting. Ride walks around the stage like a man mid-exorcism, yet the Devil inside him just does not want to leave, as Lucifer himself seems very comfortable inside this tattoo drenched, sweat soaked body. Accompanied by powerhouse drummer Zach Hill, the duo tear The Fleece a new one as the post-everything pioneers perfectly exemplify why they are considered to be one of the few acts today that are pushing the boundaries of music like nobody else.

Death Grips are essentially a journalistic nightmare, as it seems near impossible to bestow a description of their sound, let alone a genre. It is because of this reason, that they have the ability to draw in such a varied audience. With the age gap ranging from about 16 to 52, one cannot sum up the nature of tonight's audience. In the blink of an eye I can see a group of 20 some-things who'd look more at place at a Student Union Alt-J concert stood next to a group of middle-age men reminiscing about that time they shattered their appendix at a Bad Brains gig. However, this is no surprise as when a group draws on Hip-Hop as well as Hardcore and UK Bass as well as Industrial Rock you are bound to get a crowd as diverse as this one. Albeit the cultural diversity, everyone here is eagerly awaiting the same thing, the phenomena that is Death Grips.

Ride and Hill enter the stage in the most ordinary fashion imaginable, fully clothed and by the looks of it, their sanity still  intact. However, when the lights go down, everything changes as the duo take their shirts off and our ears are consequentially  meet with the earth shattering sub-bass of album three opener 'Come Up And Get Me'. Straight from the word go, the crowd explode into a frenzy of mosh-pits and  commendable attempts at singing(?) along. Accompanied by a backing track, I was at first sceptical about how this would affect the authenticity of their live shows. However, I was proved wrong as it merely adds to the brutality of Ride's voice and Hill's talents on the smallest drum kit that I've ever seen.  Throughout this surprisingly short set, mainly drawing on tracks from 'The Money Store' and 'No Love Deep Web' Death Grips pull out all the stops, from Hill standing up from his kit mid song primarily to pummel the life out of the snare drum with his elbow and fists, to Ride sub-consciously advising the audience that our synapses' may never be the same.

Highlights from the evening come from the likes of the goosebump generating 'The Fever (Aye Aye)', the genre-crossing 'Lil Boy' and the track that made them a household name in alternative music circles, 'Guillotine'. Death Grips constantly flow from one track to the next, with literally no time to breath in-between  whilst I stand there perplexed at how many drum sticks have been snapped, and  how Ride's vocal chords are still intact. With no encore, Death Grips leave the stage as mysterious as they did when they entered and as I walk outside to roll a cigarette and to ultimately try and sum up what I have just witnessed; I see many attendees open mouthed, with their clothes torn and praying that their ears won't be ringing till Christmas.

Death Grips live is certainly an experience and one that I highly recommend. The sheer brutality and belief in what they are doing is hard not to appreciate. Although in hindsight the rawness of this performance could have been enhanced without the addition of a backing track, one can still only admire what Death Grips are doing. Although, what they are actually doing is something that is extremely difficult to sum-up. It would seem that in a post-modern era where the concept of sustaining originality is at its' hardest, Death Grips seem to be doing 'something' that not a lot of others are.

- Samuel Hughes

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