BRMC, DFA 1979 Rock Without Apology at House of Blues

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Death From Above 1979
House of Blues
November 3, 2016

Contemporary rock music is boring.

This is hardly news. Turn on any rock-oriented radio station, and you'll be awash in disc jockeys who rely on music from the '90s and early 2000s to supplement what can otherwise be considered filler.

But a handful of outfits out there still truly rock, in the classical sense. Two of them — Death From Above 1979 and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club — visited House of Blues Houston Thursday night for an old-fashioned, no-frills rock concert.

The Canadian duo Death From Above performed first, careening through more than a dozen tracks in less than an hour.

Despite consisting of only two members, one of whom was tied to his drum kit as he strained his neck to reach a microphone, DFA managed to bring the crowd to life with its grungy, fast-paced tunes and a seizure-inducing light show.

Songs from 2014's The Physical World dominated DFA's concise set, though some celebrated tracks from 2004's You're a Woman, I'm a Machine were peppered into the mix. Each track seemed to transition into the next, allowing the band to extend its set without going over its allotted time onstage.

Vocalist and drummer Sebastien Grainger only took two breaks to address the crowd, both of which coincided with Jesse Keeler tuning his bass guitar. During one of the breaks, Grainger spoke briefly of Dallas before the crowd's boos reminded him of the animosity between Houston and that city in southern Oklahoma.

But DFA was just the appetizer, leading up to the main course. At 10:30 p.m., a hush fell over the crowd as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club emerged onstage and began playing “Beat the Devil's Tattoo,” the ominous, titular track off their 2010 studio album.

Not all of BRMC's songs were so sober. “Rival,” “Shuffle Your Feet” and "Six Barrel Shotgun" galvanized the crowd to dance and jump as the band shifted between genres and performed songs both new and old from its 15-year career.

Halfway through their set, BRMC – named for the Marlon Brando motorcycle gang in The Wild One – played a new song, tentatively titled “Bandung Hum” (according to a quick Google search). An infectious guitar riff rang out through the venue as fans began bobbing their heads in approval.

One attendee, wide-eyed as a kid on Christmas morning, turned to his partner and exclaimed, “New music! They're working on new music!”

Fifteen years and seven albums into its career, BRMC doesn't do streamers or fireworks. There weren't any bells, whistles or crowd-surfing moments to entice the crowd Thursday night; only good ol’ rock and roll and a straightforward performance that rested on the only laurels that really matter anyway: good tunes.

Always On
Right On, Frankenstein!
Turn It Out
Cheap Talk
You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine
Going Steady
Black History Month
Trainwreck 1979
Little Girl
White Is Red
Romantic Rights
Government Trash
The Physical World

Beat the Devil’s Tattoo
Ain’t No Easy Way
Shuffle Your Feet
Hate the Taste
Bandung Hum (new)
666 Conducer
Conscience Killer
Six Barrel Shotgun
Red Eyes & Tears
Spread Your Love
Whatever Happened To My Rock N Roll?

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