Wrapping your head around Death Grips’ sound and aesthetic takes a little work. You’ll hear them called Rap Rock, but this ain’t Linkin Park. Their most accessible songs are chaotic, abrasive, and total bangers but their deep cuts demand some real effort to ‘appreciate.’ Their lyrics are opaque and their artwork is unsettling and obscene. They don’t even attempt to clarify any of this in their interviews
I call them Punk Rap, but that doesn’t tell you much about their sound. I do think it describes their lo-fi style, confrontational stage presence, and aggressive image; and holy shit are they aggressive. We’re talking about a group who inspired a bizarrely detailed statistical analysis which ranks their songs by ‘angriness.’ The winner was the appropriately named Giving Bad People Good Ideas.
With this in mind, you’d think Death Grips plays small venues to crowds of a few hundred dedicated fans and it was a fucking hard sell to convince any of my normie friends to join me after I demonstrated their music. In fact, Death Grips sells out 2500 person venues and they absolutely kill it. The crowds are young and engaged. They know the songs; they know the lyrics. This isn’t a crowd that’s standing in the back with their arms crossed.
I saw Death Grips play at the Las Vegas House of Blues on 02/28 and I loved every minute. MC Ride has real stage presence where you feel his energy in every scream, shout, and contortion of his wiry body. Andy Morin brings his intense and glitchy keyboards and really kicks it up by adding improvisation to what you might recognize from the albums. Zach Hill’s (formerly of the ultra-technical noise rock group Hella) drumming is fast, technical, and creative. The result is an organic, dynamic, and overwhelming onslaught.
I’ve seen worse but the Las Vegas House of Blues is not an awesome venue. The space has large pillars spread throughout and these kill the line of sight to the stage. The GA floor is at a lower level than the entry area and there are only a few stairways down to the floor. Because of this, people tended to group at the bottom of the stairs and this made it a pain to move to one of the few spots with a good view of the stage. The sound mixing was on-point, though, and I felt like I could hear every detail.
Do yourself a favor, see Death Grips. Feel their anger, even if you don’t understand the specifics from their lyrics or their art.
Death Grips is based in Sacramento, California. They are MC Ride on vocals, Zach Hill on drums, and Andy Morin on keyboards. Find more at: