What a treat it was to see Death Grips – SPIN’s Artist of the Year, one of the freshest new artists in years, a group that Yeezus undoubtedly owes a lot of gratitude (and won’t dole out) – in a room with about 500 people. Probably ain’t gonna happen again, and witnessing the pure kinetic power of the crowd that night, I think they figured that out too. Opening the show was a smart, tough-as-nails decision to add Louisville’s tour-de-force art punk rudeboys Anwar Sadat to the bill. While more at home in smaller rooms, the thrash trio offered up the same palpable tension and tight, no-frills, wiry punk that’s made them one of the city’s best. Death Grips brought along Brooklyn upstart Ratking, a trio emanating with young energy and dense, rapid-fire east coast beats. Like Anwar Sadat, Ratking wears their basement show ethos prominently while comfortably commanding a larger stage with a propulsive sound system.
Everything you’ve heard about the Death Grips live show is true – these dudes are insane. Death Grips came out the gate with an older one from Ex-Military, “Guillotine” and were unrelenting through selections from their debut, The Money Store, and everyone’s favorite dong-splattered hyperfuturistic mood music No Love Deep Web. To my memory, Stefan offered no breaks between songs, and offered a kinetic performance that proves Death Grips are the most punk band on the planet. While Zach Hill is not present to kit skins on this tour, Burnett’s unbridled insanity totally made up for his absence in every way. And besides, we got the scary helldemon version of Diplo on keyboard/MPC duty. Just joshin’, Andy Morin was great.
Folks, this is one for the books, one of the can’t miss live jams of the summer.
Death Grips has kept both the heads and the backpackers captivated since 2011’s brutal Ex-Militia mixtape, and concocted the type of cerebrally terrifying hip-hop that prodigiously soundtracks putting a hit out on someone. Even Swiffering your kitchen floor while listening to The Money Store makes you feel kinda seedy. Since then, mic destroyer Stefan Burnett and the percussion shredder of Lightning Bolt’s most formidable opponent Hella, Zach Hill, have continued to brilliantly meld punk, noise, and hip-hop that evokes Dalek at their most paranoid and volatile. The duo is touring in support of No Love Deep Web, which the band self-released on a whim to dick over their label. Speaking of dicks, the album art features a big ol’ fat fuckin’ dong, and earlier this year when I was listening to it on my iPhone in the car, I walked into Bed, Bath & Beyond to pick up a wedding gift, and placed my phone on the counter while talking to the registry lady forgetting that I had a giant fucking dong on my screen. So, thanks Death Grips for that amazingly awkward few minutes. Can’t wait to see this show.
New York soothsayers Rat King are one of XL’s latest acquisitions, and with good reason. Much like Death Grips, Rat King explodes out of hip-hop’s previously constructed boundaries, harnessing the unbridled urgency of classic hardcore and anchoring it with hyperactive east coast beats, peppered with an impressive ear for off-kilter hooks. The strength of Ratking’s debut, Wiki93, got the group an invitation to Pitchfork Festival Paris and some always helpful ink from The New York Times. The latter’s almost kinda surprising since Ratking’s chaotic, gritty, jarring take on the rhyme scheme is not for the faint of heart – but a solid complement for traversing the underbelly Death Grips invites you to visit this Friday.
Do you want to go see the show? For free? I’ve got a pair! Of tickets! To enter, leave a comment below or an @ on our Twitter (@kbloggins) with the answer to this question:
You and Death Grips’ Stefan Burnett are going on a fly fishing trip. It’s just you, him, the great outdoors, and hopefully some catfish ready to bite. What do you all talk about?
Best answer gets the tickets. You have until Friday at 5 p.m. EDT, and must be able to reasonably make the show that evening in Louisville. Good luck!
UPDATE: This post originally listed the show as Saturday and that is so terribly wrong. The 14th is Friday, so don’t get it twisted. Our apologies!
Cool, good, new Boards of Canada dropped early. Give it to me. Tomorrow’s Harvest is out on June 11th. I imagine I won’t be doing anything else that day but vibing.
Chicago’s Meat Wave holds everything I’ve been looking for in a band lately. Their unabashed sense of marrying post-punk elements with tom heavy straight up rock n’ roll leaves them at a unique position in Chicago’s flourishing scene. I caught up with Chris (vocals/guitar) via email before their lofty gig opening for Jeff The Brotherhood at Subterranean and chatted about all things Meat Wave.
Davves: For three seemingly nice, chill dudes, you make some pretty aggressive music. Where does it all come from?
Chris: I’m more drawn to aggressive music. Music that is really charged in either its tone or lyrics or feel seems to resonate with me more. That being said, we’re chill and all, but we’re all angry and cynical in our own ways. In some ways the world is what you make it, but a lot of the subject matter in the songs is hard for me to ignore. Wealth inequality is infuriating. God-fearing goons can be infuriating. This band is kind of a venue to make that anger somewhat useful, at least for me. I think a great way to depict the ugliness of the world is through music. Plus, it’s fun.
D: As a listener, Meat Wave has a rebellious tone, sparking thoughts of bitterness or angst, or a certain discomfort in a certain place. Is there a message you’re trying to convey with your? music?
C: – There’s not an overall arching message, but I guess a series of messages. I’m definitely not trying to stand on a soapbox. Everyone has their own issues with the world they inhabit and the people they associate with. These are my series of issues I guess, some external, others internal. Beyond the lyrics, I think the music relays some sense of imbalance. It’s urgent and ugly sometimes, other times it locks in nicely. Like life, gnomesayin?
D: What is the song “Too Much” about? I love the lyric in the chorus “But I guess this is not what I need… What I need is a bigger TV so I can finally be able to see”.
C: Too Much is about people just owning a lot of stuff, myself included. Obviously we have the will and freedom to buy anything we’d like, but the climate to do so is fucked. Advertisements everywhere, all the time. It is never ending. It takes up so much physical space. So I think the song is commenting on this system of how things are marketed and sold, but also turns to the individual. We’re at fault too. And I guess that’s where that line comes from, “What I need is a bigger TV, so I can finally be able to see.” I myself am so critical of how things are, but at the end of the day I still want a damn blu-ray player.
D: In a Chicago scene where garage rock is popping up on every corner, and punk is battling to keep its place, where do you think Meat Wave fits in being heavier than the garage rockers yet more put together than the punkers?
C: We’re not sure where we fit in, and I think that’s what we’d prefer. We usually play with loud, fast punk bands which is cool, but we do want to play to all kinds of audiences. I like all kinds of music (except country and rap :P jk), so I personally wouldn’t mind Meat Wave being billed with hip hop or bluegrass or seriously whatever, but people can be discriminatory when it comes to other music. They like punk. They like garage rock. I could see why bands who sound alike stick together, but it could also narrow your view of who you’re reaching or what you’re doing. We haven’t been a band for very long so we’re seeing for ourselves how we’re perceived by different groups. I’m interested to see how people who don’t like punk respond to our music.
D: Currently all Meat Wave has released is a cassette tape, which sold out and has now been rereleased for a second round. Why did you choose what you call on your Facebook an “antiquated technology”, and why do you think the Chicago scene has such an infatuation with it?
C: The tape wasn’t “sold out” per say, but we just don’t know how to work Bandcamp and wanted to let people know that they were coming. We have them now. I think if we had the choice we’d probably put our music out on any medium. Pete from Let’s Pretend was nice enough to put the album out on tape, but we would have just as quickly released vinyl, or CD, or whatever. We’re into it. Ok, maybe not CD.
D: Chicago has a great reputation for its DIY venues, seemingly closing down and popping back up weekly. Have you guys gotten into the DIY scene here? And how do you think it compares to playing more legitimate established venues?
C: We’ve played a few cool DIY shows. Not many though. We either have trouble finding them or like you said, they close. We really like them though. House shows are way more laxed, comfortable. There are tons of great actual venues all over the city too. It’s a good situation to be in.
D: I’m curious, what are your day jobs??
C: I’m a writing tutor at my school and an unpaid intern. I’m finishing up my last semester of school now. Ryan works at Santullos in Wicker Park. Joe works at a printing plant.
D: And of course, as of now any future plans?
C: We’re writing an album right now, that’s really fun. Hoping for a west coast tour in the summer. Some really cool tentative releases in the works, expect new music soonish.
Catch Meat Wave at Quenchers on May 18th with Geronimo!, Hospital Garden, and Destroy This Place. Snag your presale here.