BECAUSE YOU MISSED IT: Death Grips Punches Your Brain In the Face w/Words and Sounds!

(Pictured Above: MC Ride is eating your soul.)

I didn’t really know about going to see Death Grips. I really like their first album Ex-Military, but I wasn’t as into either The Money Store or No Love Web Deep all that much. Don’t get me wrong: I love the fact that they harassed the fuck out of their record label by leaking their own album, and using this totally NSFW image for the cover. But image is something that a lot of people work with all the time whose music I couldn’t give a fat shit about if you paid me, so even though I can dig their moxie, that doesn’t mean I like what they’re making. I was on the fence until I head that Anwar Sadat was playing, and then I jumped way off the fence and made it a point to check out the show. I figured I’d at least get to see one band that I knew I liked, some anonymous touring band, and whatever spectacle Death Grips made. Boy was I wrong.

First up, let me simultaneously bemoan and rejoice in the fact that Headliners apparently took my advice and started this show on time. Clearly I’m into it, but that said, I just didn’t believe it would happen, which is why my dumb ass didn’t leave the house until 8:30 or so, when the stated door time was 7pm. I mean, it’s not like there isn’t a precedent for people ignoring door times or anything, so I figured I was in the clear. Again I have to write some of my least favorite words in the English language, despite the shoe fitting and all: I was wrong. 

Zero percent of Anwar Sadat was caught. As a penance, I’m listening to Gold right now while I write this article, and sending them happy thoughts, good vibes, and hacky sacks, or whatever the hell it is that hippies send to people when they’ve dropped the ball.

Headliners was pretty loud Friday night, and because we’ve established that I’m a twelfth level intellect, I forgot any and all hearing protection at home. Who needs it, right? The answer is me. I can only ask everyone to be nice to me when I ask you to repeat things over and over, as I simultaneously accuse you of mumbling. Why do have to mumble anyways? Jeez.

I was wrong about Rat King by a lot. For some reason I thought they were a punk or metal band of some sort, which to be fair would make just as good of sense as anything else with Death Grips. And you know, it’s not quite my fault since more than one band/group/project/whatever uses that name. So I blame everyone but my poor research skills, because I’m an American like that.

What this means is that all that I saw Friday night was hip-hop/rap stuff. It made me think of this article, that was apparently written by someone that rap had done something wrong to before, like rap punched his kids or something. Really he just sounded like some dickhead rockist who feels the need to run his mouth about things he is ignorant too. A lot of people are like that though, posturing about what is or isn’t something worth listening to, with the end result being that they sound like they’re on their goddamned hover rounds yelling into the grand canyon of life about kids getting off their lawns or something. A bunch of close-minded, no fun nitwits if you ask me.

I say this, because while I celebrate rap/hip-hop in all of it’s forms, like all music I tend to gravitate towards weirdo stuff, stuff that, I don’t want to say “pushes the boundaries,” because that makes me sound like I just heard King Crimson for the first time or something, but stuff that challenges in some way convention. It goes without saying that Death Grips provided, but I was happy to learn that Rat King excelled at this. While not as visceral and schizophrenic as Death Grips, Rat King had this cross between dubstep, a genre that would ordinarily make me puke in my mouth a little, and something more abstract like Dalek, whose criminally underrated record “Abandoned Language” is one of my all time jams.

Comprised of two MC’s and one DJ, Rat King brought it. One of the MC’s kind of sounded, uhm, Rasta maybe (?), and the other one sounded kind of like Dizzee Rascal, which by my estimation is awesome; I need to here people refer to their neighborhoods as “estates” in rap songs more, because it sounds somehow regal and baller at the same time. Their DJ fucking slayed at making things flow organically, which kind of gave the music this Warp Records, Boards of Canada or Autechre feel, or perhaps a bit more succinct a comparison would be Clams Casino, but a Clams Casino who happened to employee better rappers than garbage-ass Soulja Boy. Barf.

So I was impressed, but more importantly I was riled up for more, which I think means that Rat King succeeded as an opening act, since I’m pretty sure that’s the point.  Fucking Death Grips. They’re basically everything that Tipper Gore feared in the 80’s made musical in the present, as if Dee Snider and Too Short merged like Voltron to piss off all the nation’s w.a.s.p.’s; it was awesome. Opening with one of the most massively evil sounding drones I’ve ever heard, Zach Hill and MC Ride looked magnificently intimidating, like two badasses should. I was so wrong to not be stoked for them, but right to imagine that they would provide spectacle.

MC Ride is an intense looking guy, like all wiry muscle and sinew made flesh, and come to rage. And rage they did, deftly moving between tracks from all three of the records without ever letting up, which made for one of the most kinetic performances I’ve ever seen. These dudes did not give a fuck about making small talk or seeming cool. They walked on stage with very little to no fanfare, and blasted the fuck out of the audience like they were pissed at everyone there. When they were done, the music just stopped and they walked right off the damn stage, no conversation had, and no encore. I love it when band’s don’t do encores.

A few notes:

  • Thank you Headliners for starting on time. That’s a boss move, and I take full credit for the inspiration. You’re welcome everyone. 
  • That said, maybe this article should’ve been read too, because I think I got scoliosis just from the volume at this show. Boo to that.
  • A couple of people have some interesting things that’ve popped up because of this. For an idea of what this all looked like, check out this video by Matt Haas from Vine, or listen to this DJ set by Dave Carroll aka Tiny Forest here.
  • Seriously Death Grips, why couldn’t you just play Spread Eagle Cross the Block? That shit is boss hog, and I needed it live in my life.
  • I’m stoked that we had an interesting hip-hop show in town, and I hope that there is even more. And the weirder the better.
  • For a second I thought this show was almost going to break out into some kind of ICP thing, which is the all time worst. I want Death Grips to be as successful as possible, and I’m not one of those jerks who hates things that other people like, like it’s mine to covet or something, but jeez. Stay out of this ICP. You’ve got your Faygo, and your dalmatian face paint. Can’t that be enough?