Music Box at Fonda – Hollywood, CA
Words/Photos by Reverend Justito
Just my luck, I was introduced to Death From Above 1979 right before they decided to call it quits. For years I heard epic tales of their live shows and watched hours of footage on the internet. In my personal opinion the reunion of Death From Above 1979 is the most important musical reunion of 2011. When the band announced a post FYF Fest show at the Music Box at Fonda in Hollywood I knew it was time to swap the fest tickets for a case of wine and rock out with the greatest Canadian duo since Terrence and Phillip.
With a crowd made up of kids who had to be in grade school when Death From Above 1979 got their start, the night kicked off with a solid opening set from Funeral Party. Hailing from Southern California, Funeral Party won me over before they even hit the stage by handing out a free 7 inch at the merch table. When the group made it to the stage just past 8pm, their unique blend of early-ought’s post hardcore and various punk genres (dance, pop etc.) kept me entertained and by the end left me wanting more. The entire operation works largely in part to the guitar riffs of James Torres. While there were moments I would wish he would stomp down on a Metal Zone or Big Muff distortion pedal and go to town; he manages to find the right chords that make you want to hop in the pit, yet mosh with a groove that pays respects to Talking Heads, TV On The Radio and The Velvet Underground. Add in a tight rhythm section and an ambiguous front man and you have the right recipe to stand out amongst the countless hipster post emo/screamo posers that currently choke support slot roles. Check these guys out if you ever get a chance.
As a former resident, there is something soothing about country-western music on a Sunday evening in Hollywood. As odd as it sounds it was the perfect pre Death From Above 1979 soundtrack. Relaxed from the twang of legends like Dolly, Willie and Johnny; when the duo hit the stage with their insanely loud brand of unapologetic noise-dance-punk rock the adrenaline rush makes one ponder if it’s time to hit the emergency call button on the closest smart phone.
In 75 glorious minutes, Death From Above 1979 performed just about every song from their limited catalogue for an eager and energetic crowd. For the entire night, a huge pit engulfed the general admission floor for favorites like “Dead Womb” “Blood On Our Hands” and “Romantic Rights.” At one point during the show, bassist Jesse F. Keeler asked to be turned up at the request of the fans. Drummer vocalist Sebastien Grainger chimed in informing the crowd that the band was intended to be loud and that if Keeler wasn’t loud enough then we were not getting the full experience.
Words, photos and videos can’t truly express what it is like to see Death From Above 1979 live. How do two men make so much noise with limited instrumentation? How is that noise so damn melodic? How does Grainger manage to scream that hard while pounding the drums so violently? How does Keeler pluck four strings so fast and furiously? Now that I have seen it in person, I still can’t figure out how they do it, which is what makes Death From Above 1979 so damn great. Hopefully the duo stick together long enough to make new music in the not so distant future.