Flashing blue lights and a seemingly endless drone with occasional snippets of muffled conversation and screaming greeted the crowd as they gradually piled into Manchester Academy. It greeted the crowd for two hours in all, with no special guests despite what the tickets said, and no one could be entirely sure if there was going to be a Death Grips show at all. It wouldn’t have been all that strange after all.
The only thing Death Grips have ever been able to guarantee is how they like to stick their fingers up to expectation. In the past they’ve cancelled shows on a whim, broken up just to annoy Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (probably), and provided a ‘No Show Live Show’ with music playing from speakers along with a suicide note projected for all to see, a prop drum kit included for angry fans to destroy. It was easy to understand just why people were restless as the drone carried on droning. It might have broken a few aggravated minds.
Despite a number of posters scattered around the venue advertising a 9pm start, members of the crowd would start spontaneously clapping, chanting, trying to will the group to come out an hour or so sooner. One woman passed through the crowd, carried by her friends, already zonked out before anything had even taken place. One man pissed into a cup in fear of losing his place, his dick present for all to see, his thick urine missing the cup and splashing a number of legs. Nobody seemed to care, they just wanted to watch Death Grips play. It didn’t play well with the idea of what a typical fan of the band looked like, acted like, but does a band make its fan base? Does a fan base make the band?
Thankfully before the drone, the wait or the drugs sent the crowd into total unhinged chaos, MC Ride, Zach Hill and Andy Morin promptly arrived on stage, pulling off their t-shirts, almost as a suggestion that the crowd did the same. Of course some did, perhaps a smart move as for roughly eighty minutes, the venue was like a sweat box, as anybody and everybody pushed and shoved their way to the intense industrial beats. One girl in the crowd screamed and quickly crawled away from the front with her arms in the air, but that was the end of the oddities, it was all about the music from here.
It’s hard to define Death Grips when playing through one of the albums at home. It’s industrial, it’s punk, it’s rap, it’s noise, it’s an internet meme, it’s just a joke, it’s its own thing. However one tries to understand just what environment, time, place Death Grips is made for, attending the live show is the best way to contextualise it all. Bodies would meld together if they could, as people furiously pushed and shoved through it all, no doubt a few noided out by.
Tracks were pulled out from every orifice of the discography, beginning to current, and aside from the obvious crowd pleaser ‘I’ve Seen Footage’, most of the heaviest shoving, loudest sing-a-longs, came from the recent ‘Giving Bad People Good Ideas’, ‘Spikes’, and ‘Three Bedrooms In A Good Neighbourhood’. [Explicit] Despite the group suggesting they had already achieved their best back in 2014, the currents of the fans suggest that they’ve never been better.
Eighty minutes might not be all that long for a lot of live performances, but it was the right amount of time for Death Grips to provide something so exhilarating, so relentless. No down time, no banter, no gasps for breath from all the screaming, it was MC Ride, Zach Hill, and Andy Morin blasting it all out in one continuous attack. A single break, one solitary moment of silence, these potential moments might have been all that was needed to kill the flow, and it was impressive to see it all maintained without even a hint of stress upon the band.
It was intense, it was exhausting, it met the expectations the band so like to twist.