Club Tropicana

Rock City braces itself for Death Grips

11 April 19 words: Tina Sherwood

Rock City will open its doors to welcome controversial US experimental hip hop band Death Grips this summer. Our Tina shares her thoughts...

This is a first for Rock City as it opens the doors to welcome controversial US experimental hip hop band, Death Grips. If you’re planning on coming along be prepared for a blowout of sight and sound,  and expect an all-embracing evening of more than just music.

Described as genre-defying and fearsome, this trio is made up of vocalist Stefan Burnett, aka MC Ride, drummer/producer Zach Hill, and producer/recording engineer/ keyboard player Andy Morin. They are all musicians recognised for their unorthodox approach to performance and playing. Hold your breath and anticipate a diverse, unique, chaotic show!

Hailing from Sacramento, California, Death Grips brings together a fusion of industrial hip hop, digital hardcore and electro/punk rock influences to create an incomparable style. They are as well known for their unconventional attitude towards the industry and the public as they are for their music.

The band have an extraordinary history full of eccentric and unexpected events such as in 2014, four years after their formation, as they were about to undertake a dynamic US tour with Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden, an image of a napkin appeared on their Facebook page declaring that Death Grips had reached their peak and the band was no more. The handwritten testimony stated: "Death Grips was and always has been a conceptual art exhibition anchored by sound and vision". Yet within 10 months, the band was back with a fifth album!

Sometime described as ‘the soundtrack to modern urban living,’ MC Ride’s often cryptic lyrics can be considered bleak and intense. His pacing, combative delivery varies in tone from tumultuous screaming in your face all the way through to a tiny menacing whisper. Alongside him on stage, Morin and Hill are known to freestyle on their instruments between songs for extended periods, accompanied by their own weird, uncoordinated and outrageous physical movements. Their flickering on-screen visuals are intentionally lo-fi.

You may think that you have never heard anything from Death Grips before; however, their music has been used over here in the UK in familiar commercials such as for Adidas Predator and for TV shows such as Animals and Waterloo Road. Their song Hacker is a feature on the video game, Battlefield Hardline.

Death Grips number amongst their devotees some seriously major names: Bjork, who, it is said, recorded some original samples used on every track for a free digital download of 2014's Niggas On The Moon, Sergio Pizzorno, who cites their influence for the UK number one Kasabian album, 48:13, and David Bowie’s fellow collaborator Danny McCaslin, who confirms Death Grips’ inspiration for the great man’s celebrated Blackstar album. With a following of such high calibre, there must be something worth seeing at Rock City this June!

This is a gig for the hip-hop crew. This is a gig for the experimentalists. This is a gig for those who fancy trying something completely different.

Death Grips will play Rock City on Tuesday 4 June

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