Written by Taylor Daum
Often praised as the boldest and darkest thing to happen to music or one of the worst
memes and music PR’s in music history, Death Grips has left an impression on music fans as a
whole, and seeing it in person is not the same as reading it on the internet.
Tell me if this sounds familiar “JENNY DEATH WHEN?”, “stay noided”, “hustle bones
commin out my moooouth”. If you answered yes to any of these then you have either heard of
Death Grips or have met someone who is a fan of them. Hailing from Sacramento California and
arriving onto the scene with the polarizing hip-hop mixtape Exmilitarty death grips made ripples
in the small and underground communities of 4chan.orgs /mu/ and Reddit. Around 2012 they
ripped the minds of hardcore music fans with the album “The Money Store” which saw critical
acclaim from pitchfork.com and received the needle drop’s (a YouTube music reviewer) first ever
10/10. They not only shake the underground music scene with their music but with their actions
that range from making their 2nd album cover that of drummers Zach Hill’s genitals and announcing
a “breaking up” with a picture of a bar napkin. Death Grips is explosive and mind melting with
every step they take yet still remain so mysterious.
So when that kind of atmosphere is promised at a show near you, there is an alluring
incentive to go. Every one there could agree with fans ranging from hard core punk fans in there
40’s to kids in middle school Death Grips attracts one odd crowd, its equivalent to that of a
message board on the internet, you don’t know who or what these people are about besides the
fact that your all there to see something crazy. There was no opener, simply what played to get
the crowd hyped was some of their side projects played over the speakers as a packed house
waited in anticipation.
Finally, with no introduction or no prior knowledge they come out of the curtains and get
into position. Zach Hill behind the basic drum set to the right, Stefan Burnet (MC Ride) center
stage peeling off his shirt and holding a microphone and Andy Morin quietly (as always)
leaching into his computer soundboard set up. The stage is drenched with some smoke machines
at first and blood-like lights that brought out each shadow that was on stage. The drums and beats
kick in and Ride somberly looks down at the crowd gripping the mic, when his cue shows up he
goes through an instantaneous metamorphism from quiet to eyes popping out and hollering at the
top of his lungs. With this the crowd rushes up, squeezing tightly together like an accordion and I
got right up front row and looked into the void of aggression, ferocity and noise.
The set included almost all of the fan favorites starting with “Come up and get me” and
instantaneously going into “Get Got”. The mosh pit starts to jump and push along to each force
of bass and clash of drums. They did not speak once, it became a plunge into a hypnotic and
blood pumping furry of sound, going song after song after song not stopping once for a breather.
The music itself was loud, shaking the body to its core, each song sounded very real and spot on
to the recordings. It was to the level that they almost evoked the same style and feeling of
hearing them the first time, that blender of booming reverbs, sporadic drums and clear vocals
was on point to what I imagined they would sound like. The packed house at this point turns into
an almost brawl as kids are shoving one another and crowd surfers get carried away into security.
Zach the whole time became a machine going through hell clashing at each symbol and
snapping drum sticks (which Ride through into the crowd and nearly knocked me out, true
story). Ride was stomping jumping and pounding the microphone with his deep tones as well as
onto the stage floor. Andy had this huge smile across his face as the bass shook bodies and
eardrums across the floor. Watching these three get to this level of involvement was what the
crowd kept pumping turning the whole scene into an endurance test of smoke and force from the
music and mosh like crowd.
And just like that it stopped, the trio dropped everything, waved bye and speed off past
the curtains. The lights glowed back on and reality set back in for a second. The crowd begged
and screamed for more but the group never came back, still remaining as elusive as ever. The
whole show went on for a solid 50 minutes. What was left was a bunch of disorientated fans who
were both tired and thirsty. But how else could you end it that was the Death Grips experience to
the fullest, it was harsh loud and scary at times but conveyed powerful emotions and ideas
through the lyrics of the dark world we live in. Maybe to some it may be seen as a music faze
and to others its just a bunch of loud noise but the music seen that night is something that may