One of the most exciting acts to emerge from the underground hip hop scene in recent memory, experimental noise-rap trio Death Grips have amassed an incredibly dedicated following since they dropped their debut mixtape ‘Exmilitary’ in 2011. It hasn’t been the smoothest of journeys though, thanks to some controversial antics along the way. They surprised many by signing for Sony imprint Epic in 2012, releasing the critically acclaimed album ‘The Money Store’, before being swiftly dumped by the label for leaking its follow-up online featuring an erect penis on the cover.
The following year they caused further controversy by not turning up to scheduled shows, before announcing in 2014 that they were “disbanding” just one month after stating their plans to release a double album. When ‘The Powers That B’ arrived it came on two separate discs, released eight months apart, after which they casually announced that they “might make some more“. And make some more they did, with their latest album ‘Bottomless Pit’ hinting at the trio perhaps becoming a ‘normal’ band.
It seems the more Death Grips have toyed with their fans emotions over the past five years, the more their fans want Death Grips. It’s been a sadomasochistic relationship of sorts, but there’s little doubt that it’s one which benefits both parties. Given the trio’s history of pulling stunts, fans made sure that they got to the Manchester Academy early just in case something unexpected happened. The show was advertised as “Death Grips + Special Guests” after all. In the end there were no “Special Guests“, but it’s not like they needed any.
You could feel the anticipation building over the two hours waiting time between the doors opening and the show beginning. So it was no surprise that when Death Grips finally arrived on stage, the crowd completely lost their shit. All that pent up energy exploded. Bodies went flying. Drinks, items of clothing and even the odd mobile phone followed suit as Death Grips began tearing through their 25-track set, transitioning from one ‘song‘ to the next in relentless, machine-like fashion.
It was an exercise in endurance, particularly from drummer Zach Hill and MC Ride, both of whom were shirtless from the opening track and dripping with sweaty intensity throughout. The trio, which also included an energetic Andy Morin on electronics, were fully in the zone for the entire 90 minutes. Their fans tried their best to keep up, successfully shouting every word to the likes of ‘Get Got’ and ‘I’ve Seen Footage’, but even some of their most hardcore followers were caught by surprise when ‘Full Moon (Death Classic)’ from their self-titled debut EP was given a run out.
The volume could be bone-shakingly loud at times, with even the hyper aggressive MC Ride being drowned out for some of the super intense ‘You Might Think He Loves You For Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You For…’ and the thrash metal-inspired ‘Giving Good People Bad Ideas’. Whether that was the intention or an acoustics issue, it didn’t really matter to the vast majority of those in attendance because such ear bleeding moments were far outweighed by superb performances of fan favourites like ‘No Love’, ‘Guillotine’, ‘Known For It’ and show closer ‘The Fever (Aye Aye)’.
Arguably one of the most anticipated tours of the year, Death Grips certainly didn’t disappoint on their visit to Manchester. Originally scheduled to be held at the smaller Academy 3, the show was soon switched to the main Academy venue when tickets were snapped up minutes after going on sale. Those lucky enough to be there for the sold out show were able to witness the brilliantly unhinged trio at the peak of their powers.
Whatever I Want (Fuck Who’s Watching)
Bubbles Buried in This Jungle
World of Dogs
Giving Bad People Good Ideas
Up My Sleeves
Lock Your Doors
Why a Bitch Gotta Lie?
I’ve Seen Footage
Come Up and Get Me
Full Moon (Death Classic)
You Might Think He Loves You For Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You For…