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Live Review: Death Grips

24 January 2013 | 12:46 pm | Samson McDougall

They cement themselves as one of the most unique live beasts on the planet. And they fuckin’ know it.

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Ding Dong is predictably rammed to the gunnels and shorter punters are climbing all over furniture to gain vantage points. Death Grips' Zach Hill and mainman MC Ride saunter onto the sparsely 'decorated' (there are two oversized iPad screens, a tiny drum kit, a spot for Ride's laptop and that's it) stage area, set up briefly, drop shirts and blaze guns.

Hill smashing a drum stick in the first number speaks volumes of his performance as a whole. The drum rhythms are off the hook, erratic and seething. The live beats reveal the disjointedness of their recorded material as nothing more than a slight failure to capture the explosive vibrancy of it all. Ride barks and yabbers into the mic – not a lyric is audible through the set but it matters not. The room bounces and heaves to the crazed freneticism of the music, you can feel the Ding Dong floor buckling under the compression. It works in such a confined space – it's fucking intense.

The smell of the audience comes in waves, like salt and vinegar on plastic bag-wrapped sweaty fish and chips – not in a good way. Guillotine gets the mosh going even mentaller. A solid two thirds of the room slams full-tilt to the thrum and the rest of us sweat through the stink. It's only late in the set that the backing track, on which they're totally reliant, gets a bit tired and the lack of vocal coherence irks. When words emanate from the pre-programmed material, it begs the question of just how much of what we're witnessing is 'live'?

Still, there's never been an act like Death Grips. They tie together so many strings from so many threads of music that they're impossible to define and sound wholly themselves. On paper, the fusion of dancehall, rap, hardcore and industrial music sounds fucking terrible. In reality, Death Grips bring all these styles together with such dedication and belief that it's impossible to deny them their due. In gluing these elements together via the most aggressive, garish and visually arresting live performance on offer anywhere, they cement themselves as one of the most unique live beasts on the planet. And they fuckin' know it.

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