Death Grips | 06.13.13

death-grips 75From Burnett’s movements on stage it looked as if he was letting the bass beat his body into submission, and he was offering up the carcass to everyone for their approval.

 Death-Grips 500
Firebird, St. Louis

 

Death Grips is the hip-hop trio usually consisting of vocalist Stefan Burnett, drummer Zach Hill, and keyboard/synth player Andy Morin. Hill, however, was absent during their St. Louis performance and may even be absent during a greater portion of their tour, as he is currently working on his first feature film. The extra space on stage left just enough room for aspiring b-boys to get their groove on and show off their dancing skills alongside the menacing prowess of Mr. Burnett.

 

They started off with the fan favorite, “Lost Boys,” with Burnett busting out onstage like a wild man with his scraggly Isaac Hayes beard and sculpted ink covered torso, which like every other appearance, is shirtless. He stands on the edge of the stage screaming into the audience and doing battle with a barrage of hands from the crowd. Death Grips’ signature drudging production creates a slosh pit in the center of the audience, different from a mosh pit in that here everyone gyrates and wobbles instead of jumping and pushing.

 

Moving forward with “Guillotine,” they put everyone into a suicidal trancelike state (which only perpetuated the sloshiness). Immediately following were the tribal drums of “Get Got” and everyone exploded with excitement.

 

The production on “The Fever” sounded like crawling through a ventilation shaft in a busy factory. The effects are hectic and smash together in order to create a cohesive unit. From Burnett’s movements on stage it looked as if he was letting the bass beat his body into submission, and he was offering up the carcass to everyone for their approval. Indeed, they did approve.

 

“I’ve Seen Footage” blew every previous song out of the water in terms of crowd hype. Here he provided a more traditional performance, given that it’s one of their most accessible songs with elegant flow and production as well as a catchy hook. Finishing with “System Blower” and “Hacker,” the crowd was more than worn out, and while they begged for an encore, it clearly wasn’t going to happen. Death Grips gave one of the most intense and self-sacrificial (in terms of energy) shows I’ve seen in a while.

 

Not as dark as their label mate, Odd Future, and not as rambunctious as their headliner, Death Grips, Rat King was still a pleasant surprise, developing a well-rounded, unique sound of their own. The New York quad-force consists of Wiki, Hak, Sporting Life, and Ramon. Wiki is the most distinct in sound, with a nasally voice similar to Yelawolf. Their production, courtesy of Sporting Life is a much more repetitive style, which focuses the presentation more on lyrical prowess, as opposed to Death Grips whose production frequently distracts the listener from the lyrics (which are hard to understand already).

 

Playing about a thirty-five minute set, Rat King kept the crowd moving more than most openers can and proved to be a nice fit for Death Grips. They currently have the seven song “Wiki93 EP” (which I highly recommend) available for download on the XL Records website, as well as on Amazon and iTunes. | Brian Cheli

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