Death Grips makes incendiary debut in Boston


Photo by Alden Fielder

Experimental hip-hop trio Death Grips gave a characteristically heavy, chaotic performance at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston on July 5th.

Conor Battles, Editor-in-Chief, Arts & Entertainments Editor

Earlier this month, Sacramento experimental hip-hop outfit Death Grips brought their unique blend of harsh punk-rap to a raucous crowd at the Paradise Rock Club on a muggy Sunday night in Boston.

Frontman MC Ride barked out venomous, cryptic lyrics in a powerful, guttural howl, while producer Andy Morin’s system-blowing production and drummer Zach Hill’s intricate, pounding drums brought the cacophony to its head. The roughly 75-minute setlist seems short, but not once in the show did they pause for a break. Song after song blasted over a rapturous, violent crowd that kept its energy throughout the set.

The trio has a notorious legacy in the city – the past four times they were scheduled to perform there, they never showed up, an act of equal parts brazen rockstar mythos and callous indifference to their sizable East Coast fanbase. Then, last year, the band suddenly called it quits, cancelling another slew of dates in support of Nine Inch Nails. At the time, it seemed Boston would never see a Death Grips performance. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the group came back out of the wetworks, delivering two albums and announcing a North American tour back in March.

The day of the show, a line stretched around the block hours before the scheduled 7:00 PM doors. As the day stretched on with no sign of the band, nervous tension buzzed through the crowd, fears of another no-show looming on their minds. Trouble at the Canadian border after a show in Montreal the previous night held the band up several hours, leaving them to arrive at the venue at 8:30, a whole half hour after the show was supposed to start.

Once the show kicked off, however, all those fears and nerves melted away.

From the moment MC Ride’s gaunt, tattooed figure emerged onstage to his subdued “thank you” at the close of the show, Death Grips played one of the loudest, most visceral shows in the history of the Paradise. The audience moshed and pushed ferociously in time with the band, prompting Ride to dive into the crowd at the peak of the penultimate song of the night, a nightmarish march to Hell titled “No Love.” It was unbridled, it was insane, it was Death Grips.