Death Grips, a band which had eluded me on more than one occasion, finally upheld their promise to Glasgow and played a gig at the versatile SWG3. My first attempt to see Mr. Stefan Burnett- aka MC Ride- and co. was thwarted when they dropped out last minute from 2012’s ATP festival in London, to the great distress of their then label Epic Records, in order to focus on their second album The Money Store.The experimental, aggressive, more than hip-hop sound of Death Grips would have come as an interesting break from the doom and drone dominated ATP, but dropping out of a festival headlined by metal legends Slayer, not to mention cancelling their entire tour, was a ballsy and some might say foolish move.
Nevertheless the Sacremento based trio have been kicking up quite a storm since their 2010 formation, utilising the web to leak several new tracks and whispers of a lawsuit against them, the hype is far from diminished and their sound has continued to develop in interesting and extreme directions. With remixes of Bjork and the Prodigy their punk-drenched sound is shifting in the most contemporary ways, blending genres the way an infuriated Pollock mixes paint. In the heat of exams, I was keen to see what they were made of live.
After a while staring at an empty stage, unsurprisingly lacking Zach Hill on drums (I hear he played a Boiler Room set over skype), and being slowly crushed closer to the barriers, MC Ride and producer Andy ‘Flatliner’ Morrin slinked on stage hoods up and backpacks on. The amount of water bottles ready on stage was a surefire indicator of the intensity that was about to be unleashed; in a second Ride had dropped his backpack, unzipped his hoody and bared that famous abdomen, trance-like as Flatliner started the first sample. The energy was explosive, within the first song (launched into without introduction) the first crowdsurfer had thrashed his way overhead, and I was thoroughly soaked five minutes in. Ride’s primal presence was almost possessive, and Flatliner was- for lack of a better word- like a ninja behind his macbook. The strobe lighting and fog machine on override created an atmosphere that was almost religious, with Ride’s silhouette the only point of reference in an otherwise wonderfully chaotic surrounding. Misguided as I was, I didn’t know to what extent they would be able to emulate their famous intensity without Hill, but I can assure you two of them are more than sufficient.
A short 45 minutes later, eyes bulging over the mic and sweating profusely, Ride dropped the mic and the two departed without a word. Flatliner briefly appeared back on stage to take a photo of the crowd, still adrenaline fuelled and wanting more, but that was the last we saw. Unapologetic and fierce as always.
Words: Alexandra Embiricos