Sound Table – Atlanta, GA
Because I had originally missed the Moog Fest in Asheville, North Carolina, which had groups acts like Cold Cave, El-P, Killer Mike and, most importantly, Death Grips, I can’t express how excited I was when I got the announcement that I was going to be seeing Ride, Zach Hill and Flatlander rock my own city. I was at work and, literally, yelled “Holy shit” from my office cube. True story.
The show came about a week after I had done my solo review of No Love Deep Web (check it out here) and I had, literally, not stopped listening to the album at least every other day since it leaked. My biggest fear was that I would get to the show and it would suffer from the typical Atlanta indie concert disease. That is that only about 20 people would be there. I was surprised when I arrived to a line trailing out the door and down the street of the club.
Once inside I took in the rather large amount of people there and immediately noticed that a lot of them seemed quite young and (not to seem like a dick) how most of them didn’t seem like they were avid hip hop concertgoers. But, in the end, it really doesn’t matter where the bodies come from as long as they end up in the building, right?
The first act was a group called Qurious. They were, apparently, from Atlanta, but I’d never heard of them. They were a duo (one male and one female) who played a pretty interesting type of electronic music. Picture something like Little Dragon mixed with Mazzy Star with a little bit of Alias & Tarsier. I have to be honest. Live, the majority of what I noticed was how intricate the beat patterns were. While lush, they were also very nicely layered. The vocals, on the other hand, were a bit drowned out. At first, I thought maybe her voice wasn’t very strong, but after a while I deduced it was, in fact, due to the sound. I think the mic was simply not loud enough. It’s a shame, too, because, since seeing these guys live, I checked out some of their music and the vocalist, Catherine Quesenberry, has an awesome voice. It would have been great to be able to really hear her live. But after the show and listening to their music online, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for any of their upcoming shows. Plus their new record is on my friend Gavin’s Stickfigure Records label, so support goes without saying.
Next up was Death Grips. I’d actually seen them walking in the door, all in black with hoods up, looking like a cult of monks. I was able to secure a nice spot on the side of the stage where I could see very nicely. I was originally directly in front of the stage and I heard a few kids behind me telling each other how they couldn’t wait to start moshing. I’m a bit too old for that shit, so, even though it wasn’t the ideal spot, I figured I’d be better safe than sorry and move. A few minutes after getting to my spot, someone taps me on the shoulder and says, very politely, “Excuse me, bro, but can I get by?” I turn around to see MC Ride standing behind me. I was quite surprised to hear such a pleasant demeanor coming from the same person who wrote “Stick your head in that hole and watch me drop this cold guillotine death sentence.”
About 10 minutes later, the show starts. Let me start by saying how that decision to move to the side of the stage turned out to be an extremely well-played move. The second Zach Hill hit the first cymbal crash, the crowd erupted into a huge wall of people falling in on each other. Death Grips started off with an extremely powerful version of Come Up and Get Me. From there they ripped through songs from all three releases. The live versions consisted of the samples playing in the background with Ride going crazy and Zach Hill banging the shit out of the drums. The raw sound of the drums live seriously made the songs so much more hype to me. And Ride sounds like an absolute maniac on the mic. I can tell you the shit that he portrays on record…he brings it to life 100%. This was definitely evident when a slightly overzealous fan, literally, got a mouthful of Ride after he thought it would be a cool idea to jump on stage and show Ride just how much he loved him. Instead of the polite demeanor that I had received earlier, this kid was met with a few punches, some pushes and a “back the fuck up.” I’m not one to celebrate violence, but I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit to laughing quite a bit at this kid getting duffed. I can’t display any sympathy for this guy because his actions clearly show that either he never bothered to read Ride’s lyrics (“I stay noided”) or he just didn’t take him seriously. I would never think that a person like Ride would be the type of cat that would be cool with getting run up on whether on the street or on stage. Unfortunately, this guy found that out the hard way.
Overall, Death Grips gave me exactly what I wanted from them and much more. They gave me one of the most intense live shows I’ve seen in years. Seeing them run through songs like Blackjack, No Love, Guillotine and Black Dice was easily worth the admission. It would be an understatement for me to tell you they are an incredible group live and that, even if you’re a fair-weather fan of theirs, you’d be a complete fool not to see them if they come to your town. Having been a huge fan of theirs since hearing Exmilitary, I’m just ecstatic that I actually got to see them live. I feel like I should think the Atlanta audience for showing them that shows here aren’t always shit. In the end, hopefully the turnout as well as the level of audience participation will convince them to play here again soon.
(If these images are yours and you would like credit or to have me take them down, please contact me.)