“Conceptual art exhibition anchored by sound and vision” Death Grips were presumed finished, after announcing their intention to disband last year, but, for fans who’ve followed the trio’s high-concept, intentionally cryptic, and often deceptive style of presentation, that abrupt end never felt quite permanent, especially with half an album still to be released. That skepticism proved true earlier this year, when the hardcore/hip hop/experimental/noise rock collective reemerged with The Powers That B, a long-overdue tour, and and a newfound, clearer focus. One of the most intense, compelling, and unpredictable bands making music today, Death Grips absolutely must be witnessed live to be fully appreciated, and you’ll get that chance when they play Nashville for the first tonight, Oct. 2 at Marathon Music Works. Buy your tickets here, and read on for details.
To attempt to accurately describe Death Grips would almost certainly do the Sacramento, California band a disservice. Alternative/experimental rap? Not really. Though frontman Stefan Burnett goes by the pseudonym MC Ride, to call his delivery or aim rap would be to undersell his style, angst, hardcore influences, and artistic ambitions. Punk rock? Not exactly. Not by any conventional aesthetic take on the genere anyway, but the energy and spirit are certainly present. Producer/drummer Zach Hill and co-producer Andy Morin (who doesn’t play live) are crafting abrasive, foreign, industrial, pulsing, and unconventional music that strays too far out of the zone of “rock” to really properly fit in the punk rock category. In fact, it’s not a far shot from noise music, a scene Hill is quite versed in, but Death Grips almost land a little bit too digestible to be perfectly considered members of the more abstract noise rock scene. In a lot of ways, they feel like a hardcore band, albeit one lacking in the conventional guitar-driven structure. However, in spirit, message, and edginess, Death Grips are more hardcore than just about anyone in the modern hardcore scene.
Formed in 2010, the self-described “conceptual art exhibition anchored by sound and vision” first garnered attention with the release of 2011 mixtape titled Exmilitary, landing them an unexpected major label record deal for their critically acclaimed full-length debut, 2012’s The Money Store. Being the unpredictable and uncontrollable artistic force that they are, the band were soon dropped after tour cancelations and unwillingness to allow any oversight as they crafted their second LP that year, No Love Deep Web (initially self-released with an explicit cover then later re-released at new home Harvest Records). 2013 would see the intentionally cryptic band form their own imprint under Harvest, and release a pseudo-album called Government Plates, amidst a string of show cancellations, including planned festival outings. The following year, they released the first half of a double album called The Powers That B, but not before suddenly announcing their intention to disband. Early 2015 would see the release of a surprise instrumental album, Fashion Week, and cryptic series of hints as to the release of The Powers That B in full, leading up the revelation that Death Grips had never really broken up at all, and were planning to tour and release even more music. Sound confusing? That’s the way they like it. Despite their DIY, mis-directional, cryptic mode of operation, Death Grips, band or art project, remain one of the most intense, unique, and exciting outfits making music today and their stage show is just as bombastic and eclectic as their quickly growing back catalogue; we have no idea what to expect, and that’s what makes this show so exciting.
Death Grips will perform tonight, Oct. 2 at Marathon Music Works. The show is 18+, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $23-26.