DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979/ GREYS
- Electric Ballroom, London 20.10.14
There is one thing that can be guaranteed tonight and that is that
it will be loud. Support act, Greys, confirm that. The quartet, from
Toronto, launch into a set that shows off their tight musicianship,
if not their songwriting skills. Thats not to say that theyre
not any good but screaming lo-fi vocals make them sound a bit samey
after a while, though I cant help but be drawn in by heavy bass,
crunching guitar and the crazy drumming skills. The plus one complained
about the wall of sound. I quite liked it. They certainly seem to
get the crowd warmed up anyway.
And then for the headline act, a band that I first heard about after
being sent their CD to review by The Ely Standard (yes, really!).
I last saw DFA1979 in a much tinier venue about ten years ago and
it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life for the sheer
impression left by two blokes creating enough noise to make your entire
innards reverberate. In fact, Im moderately deaf now and I blame
them. Their new album, The Physical World, is an outstanding
follow-up to debut Youre a woman, Im a machine;
more commercial in places and definitely less wailing- such as recent
singles Train Wreck and Cheap Talk- but just
as hypnotic for its strong use of melodies backed with controlled
accompaniment, courtesy of Jesse F. Keelers trademark squealing
bass feedback and Sebastien Graingers super-quick drumming.
So Im excited.
So is everyone else apparently. The audience are like a bunch of feral
children when the duo takes to the stage, lights shining behind their
familiar silhouettes. An interesting combination of trailer trash
and camp dropout, Granger cuts a calmer figure these days, dressed
completely in white like a cast member of a 70s stage musical, his
reputation for angry confrontation seemingly softened, as is the sound.
Yes, theres one thing that can be guaranteed that tonight is
going to be loud, but its odd that it could definitely be louder.
Still, the fact that their usual sensual chaos seems to be limited
doesnt effect their ability to get a reaction, of course. Suddenly,
we are pushed backwards towards the wall, as the ferals take charge
by forming a massive pit, throwing themselves enthusiastically against
each other in a shirtless display of primal appreciation (or homo-eroticism,
depending on how you look at it), to the point that security cut short
Right on, Frankenstein! because its clear that people
are losing their shoes, and probably their limbs.
That said, at times it does feel that the band are going through the
motions rather than totally enjoying what is happening, perhaps still
feuding enough offstage to ban any onstage connection between them-
there isnt much banter between songs, apart from a controversial
quip about Robin Williams, just to prove that Grainger hasnt
completely stopped being a bastard. Nevertheless, highlights include
Virgins (an apparent ode to a teenage suicide, hence the
Robin Williams comment); Keeler shaking his head throughout and spraying
sweat from his locks like a wet dog/ rock God; the song that everyone
seems to be waiting for in the eruptive Romantic Rights;
and defiantly closing with a cutthroat bass solo stripped straight
from old school metal during The Physical Worlds
title track. When we are waiting to get out of the club, it smells
like someone has shat themselves, perhaps testament to the fact that,
despite being a more muted version of themselves this evening, DFA1979
are still loud and exciting enough to inspire that, at the very least.
Words and pix : Anna C