Death From Above 1979 Warehouse Live November 6, 2014
Don't get me wrong; reviewing and shooting concerts is an awesome gig. I get to see the bands that I want to see up close and also get the best souvenirs - my photographs of the artists. Obviously some shows have been better than others for a variety of reasons, but Death From Above 1979 was more of an experience.
It started on Wednesday night with a screening of the new film Life After Death From Above 1979 at the Alamo Draft House. The documentary is a gem from first-time director Eva Michon that begins with the band's inception in Toronto, their rapid rise to success and surprising breakup, and explores the projects that Sebastian Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler took on during their hiatus. It also documents the interactions that led to the duo's making music again after not speaking to each other for five years.
They had unfinished business to address. As stated in the film, there was a desire for the group to reunite and, "become the band it was supposed to be." Footage from the insane riot at their first reunion show during SXSW 2011 exhibited just how much people loved this band.
One of the most telling pieces in the film comes when Grainger goes through some old DFA clothing, and comes across a hoodie with the band's logo of the elephant-trunked musicians. He unzips the garment, leaving it evenly split right down the middle. The symbolism in that brief scene is blatantly obvious and even more so the film is about their relationship not simply music.
A Q&A session with the director and band members was held directly after film Wednesday. Moviegoers asked some run-of-the-mill questions about various aspects of the band, and things like favorite song to play ("Always On"), the hardest song to play ("Nothing Left"). The gentlemen were warm to the crowd and interacted in a jovial manner, while Michon was more serious and answered questions directly.
She should be very proud of her work. Afterwards, the group went to the lobby to interact with fans - signing memorabilia, taking photographs and chatting with the remaining fans.
Seeing the film and participating in the Q&A session provided a great insight to DFA's inner workings. Grainger shared the meanings of several songs and explained the reasons they were written. This resilient man has had some emotionally tragic events occur in his life, and it bleeds out in his work. (View the documentary on Vimeo here.)
Finally, Thursday night's show arrived. Warehouse Live was at about 70 percent capacity, but would have easily have been a sellout if Alt-J was not playing a few miles away at the same time. The crowd was stirring with anticipation, with most of them having never seen DFA.
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The Canadians walked out to their gear and began their hour and a half set with a tight fury. JFK dressed in all black, except for his white tennis shoes and a silver pig belt buckle. Grainger emerged in all white, the contrast of their clothing similar to the duo's heavy and sweet music. After situating themselves with their gear, they proceed to blast some truly terrifying sounds throughout the venue.
The music was loud, fast and hard, with the catchy refrain of "Trainwreck 1979," from new release The Physical World, a hands-down crowd favorite. "White is Red" is a great song narrative but a tragic story.
The set list wove songs from the duo's decade-old album, You're a Woman, I'm a Machine with selections from Physical World perfectly. Fans were fully expecting the band's noisy, melodic sounds to blow the roof off, and they were not disappointed as DFA finished strong with a brutal encore.
Grainger's strained singing style and JFK's working of the bass and synth is something that just works. It is almost unbelievable that two people can make such incredible noise. Their talent is too great together to not have resolved their differences and create more music that fans love.
Keep zipping the hoodie up, fellas.
Overheard in the Crowd: "You don't make love and listen to Death From Above, you fuck to Death From Above."
Turn It Out Right On Frankenstein Virgins Cheap Talk You're a Woman, I'm a Machine Go Home Get Down White is Red Trainwreck 1979 Crystal Ball Going Steady Nothing Left Gemini Little Girl Government Trash Always On
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