Death From Above 1979


October 29, 2005


God bless and help all the great bands that have to play the early festival slots. Death From Above 1979 was one of those groups Saturday morning at The Voodoo Music Experience in Riverview Park. The rock duo from Toronto looked like they rolled out of their bus bunks onto the stage. Bassist Jesse Keeler and drummer/vocalist Sebastien Granger seemed less than enthused to be playing at 11:30, and Granger confirmed as much when he said from the stage, "It's hard rocking before breakfast."

My friend David talked to Keeler after the set. According to David, Keeler was drinking whiskey straight and talking about how he hadn't eaten anything throughout the previous sleepless night. And, still, Keeler and Granger locked in together and played an effective set. Because nobody wanted to be up so early, there was a lack of energy exchanged between the audience and the band, but the songs were solid and tight. Any other time, I imagine the crowd would be a sweaty, dancing mess. Death From Above 1979 plays stop-and-go, riff-oriented dance/metal. Fuzz bass guitar mixes with disco-ish hi-hats and deranged, celebratory, hardcore beats. Simply, DFA 1979 plays nasty and immediate music. Granger screams and lets loose some yearning, right now-or-never vocals.

At Voodoo, Granger played on a kit that faced Keeler. When he wasn't manning the synth, he shook to manic rhythms in front of Granger. As much shaking as a tired zombie can do. Granger sat with perfect posture over his smallish set, and he laid into his ride cymbal for most of the songs. He got up from the kit in the middle of one of the songs and started clapping above his head. Some of the crowd joined in as Granger walked to the stage's front mic to sing some lyrics before he had to return to drumming. At least they tried to get the crowd into it.

Granger talked to the crowd once, but other than that and the clapping, DFA 1979 was all business. As with all bands, DFA 1979 performed to get the passion of the music across, but since that didn't work so early in the day, at least they got an idea of what the music would feel like in a more intimate and darker setting: rapturous and freeing.

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