Live Review: Death Grips at Music Hall of Williamsburg

Photo: Kenny Sun via Normal

Now dropped from Epic Records after an insanely unprecedented debacle in which the group gave away their album “No Love Deep Web” away for free, Death Grips are once again free agents, a liberty that made their show at Music Hall of Williamsburg feel even more dangerous than their last New York show at Pitchfork’s CMJ showcase at Villian. Anything could happen now with no label to answer to.

Before the duo took the stage (Andy Morin was again curiously missing), the audience had plenty to keep busy with local rapper Mykki Blanco who thrashed about the stage in a makeshift kilt and a Suicidal Tendencies cap. She just released her first mixtape “Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/Ss” last Friday and some members of the audience were already fairly familiar with some of the tracks, especially “Wavvy,” the tape’s standout which first put Blanco on the map six months ago when she released the song on Soundcloud.

After Blanco left the stage though, the crowd moved forward with heavy tension as the anticipation for the main act loomed. Death Grips’ shows always seem like an accident waiting to happen especially since they attract a crowd that’s not always familiar with the mosh pit etiquette that years of hardcore shows might offer. The need however to completely unleash oneself into a violent swirl of bodies is the same as in any punk or thrash metal show, past experience or not.

“Come Up and Get Me”’s blaring noise intro rallied the crowd into savage-like chaos which refused to relent for the entire set which clocked in at less than one hour. Front man Stefan “MC Ride” Burnett was as menacing as he was at Villain, and this time around audience members were smart enough to not idle when they made it onto the stage. That meant a lot of quick and fast stage dives, some of which didn’t have the benefit of being caught by crowd members – I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look of horror on one bouncer’s face when one muscular fan back flipped from the stage-left monitor into the crowd that may or may not have intercepted.

When the two finished their onslaught with a pile driving combination of “I’ve Seen Footrage,” “Deep Web” and “Lock Your Doors,” they exited the stage to blood-thirsty cries for more, with Burnett holding his laptop in the air as they walked out – a signifier that no, there would not be an encore. The club’s stage crew seemed unsure if the band would come back as the lights took a while to reach full brightness but the band’s reluctance to give into anyone’s wishes but their own is one of the aspects that make them such an indispensable commodity in 2012. A band this powerful seems too good to not self-destruct, but hopefully they can hold on long enough for New York to get at least a couple more throwdowns.