In the aftermath of 2018’s acclaimed Year of the Snitch, industrial hip-hop band Death Grips hit a new peak of relevance, with their increased use of punk and shoegaze alerting a new crowd to their presence. The Sacramento based band have been pushing boundaries since 2010 with their performances or, in many cases, their absence from them. The setlist had leaked about a day prior and consisted of little of their new music (only ‘Death Grips is Online’ featured from YOTS), with the bulk of the set consisting of the more high-octane tracks vocalist MC Ride, drummer Zach Hill and producer Flatlander had to offer.
Barrowlands is vast yet fans filled the space entirely, creating a seething, dissociative mass of bodies instead of groups of individuals. The eclectic nature of the crowd reflected the band itself – people young and old, male and female had gathered for the experience. For a band typically characterised as being overly aggressive and masculine, the gender diversity and egalitarian nature of the crowd was refreshing. When the crowd inevitably erupted into mosh-pits, factors like size and gender became meaningless. Amongst the mass of bodies, we were all the same. After Ride’s vocals began in the opener ‘Beware’, a man threw his crutches to his friend and dove into the sea of people.
Throughout the entirety of the set, the energy of vocalist MC Ride, who celebrated his 40th birthday this year, ignited the room. The band turned up on stage an hour and a half late with no opening act which resulted in murmurs of discontentment around the crowd – what if we were to be one of the unlucky ones to whom the band didn’t bother showing up for as “performance art”? However, the moment the Charles Manson sample from ‘Beware’ came out and frontman Ride removed his shirt, he didn’t once stop screaming. The crowd reached its peak of aggression during the harsh and guttural ‘Black Paint’ – but when the tracks from Steroids kicked in, the set began to blend together. This was partly due to the exquisite drumming of Zach Hill, who stole the show, though from his drums drowning out his bandmates and his live drumming sounding so distinct from the original mixes, the tracks were difficult to distinguish.
Crowd-pleasers like ‘I’ve Seen Footage’, ‘The Fever (Aye Aye)’ and ‘You Might Think He Loves You…’ occupied the tail end of the set where even while the energy of the crowd wavered, that of the band did not. When the closer ‘No Love’ finished and the band walked off without speaking a word, the lights came back on in the ballroom. A two hour set had flown by in seconds. Forum browsing teenagers and old school punks left together with a shared experience that could not have happened without a band like Death Grips.
Image: Montecruz Foto via Flickr