Death Grips @ SWG3, 30 April
A question is circulating through the crowd – where is the drum kit? Unfortunately, the answer is probably 'Sacramento.' Zach Hill's barefoot, psychotically-intense drumming was a huge element of what made the band's packed, sweaty 2011 Glasgow debut so incendiary an event. Can Death Grips do this without him?
With Flatlander restored to the lineup, and the beats coming from a laptop and launchpad, this is Death Grips 2.0; designed to kill club soundsystems. MC Ride, muscles rippling beneath his dark, witchy tattoos, is stripped to the waist, blue stage lights bouncing off his body. The venue's powerful strobes are set to full burn, making a nonsense of the heaving sea of skater kids, bespectacled hipsters, and 'black bloc'-dressed hardcore fanatics. This is the perfect fusion of rave dancefloor and moshpit – euphoric, angry, chaotic and liberating.
Most of Exmilitary is set aside, apart from a searing Guillotine. No Love Deep Web's excoriating No Love, Black Dice and Lil Boy snarl and rage, all dubstep on steroids and bath salts; Come Up And Get Me is a delirious, howling highlight. In 2011, watching Ride felt like witnessing a spectacular and violent psychotic meltdown set to beats. Now he is a professional rabble rouser, inciting the crowd to ever-more violent peaks.
The Money Store provides the highlights – Get Got and The Fever (Aye Aye) explode like anti-personnel mines; I've Seen Footage lifts the crowd off their feet. With Flatlander barely pausing between tracks, and MC Ride never letting up on his growling, cathartic flow, they are a band transformed – from punk outsiders here to blow the doors off hip-hop, to a band that could rival The Prodigy for sheer festival-slaying, warehouse-destroying power. They're also intellectuals, futurists, multi-media artists, and visionary writers. As Hacker reminds us, Death Grips are in your area... "teaching bitches how to swim."