Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

‘They’re in your area’: Death Grips concert review

Courtesy Emma McIntyre

On Sept. 20th, anticipation filled the air as fans awaited the legendary group Death Grips. MGM Music Hall doors opened at 8 p.m., filling the pit with fans eager to get a glimpse of the experimental icons. The crowd knew what they were in for, as did I.

Unlike most bands, they didn’t have an opening act—just an ominous empty stage accompanied by pre-show music playing through the speakers.

As the stage tech entered, the crowd grew wild with excitement. The lights went dark, the cheers increased, and luminous flashes from cameras began to reveal vocalist MC Ride, drummer Zach Hill, and guitarist Nick Reinhart (subbing for producer Andy Morin) on stage. The blood-red stage lights bathed the band in a cultish glow as MC Ride roared their plans to “blow your system” into the microphone.

What ensued throughout the night was a nonstop, exhilarating thrill ride that only Death Grips could provide.

Ride went silent during the first few bars of the band’s smash hit “I’ve Seen Footage,” letting the crowd chant some of the song’s opening lyrics such as “Get Up / Beats ‘bout waist deep / Swallowed by beats / I stay niche” in a rare moment of fan interaction.

Throughout the show, the band took no breaks between songs. Ride roared the lyrics of such classics as “Takyon” & “Spread Eagle Cross the Block” into the mic, with crowds chanting alongside the vocalist: “Triple six, five, forked tongue!”

However, given his vocalization style, the crowd often had difficulty keeping up and understanding Ride—such as when they played their song BB Poison. Despite that, the wrath of his delivery kept the crowd’s energy at an all-time high—all I knew was that the song ended with “Bitch!”.

The years of taxing performances have taken a visible toll on Ride’s body. Though he still headbanged and moved about, he was noticeably less energetic. Though you couldn’t tell through his voice.

In stark contrast, Zach Hill’s whip-like arms slammed the rhythm into the crowd. The sweat on his bare back gleamed red under the lights, and he took no breaks between songs. Hill seemingly had the endurance of three professional marathoners.

Nick Reinhart performed the beloved songs with astounding guitar renditions. He was particularly outstanding when performing the act’s opening song, “System Blower,” from the band’s first album. The heavier guitar renditions of the beloved songs added more energy to an energetic discography.

When it came to songs Nick had previously helped record, such as “Giving Bad People Good Ideas,” it felt like you were there the moment they recorded it. And the crowd responded as such, cheering and headbanging to their favorite tracks, now heavier and filled with fantastic shredding.

MC Ride gave some incredible screams throughout the show, most notably during the song, “You might think he loves you for your money, but I know what he loves you for, It’s your brand-new leopard skin pillbox hat.” His raw and intense vocals added an electrifying energy to the performance, captivating the audience from start to finish.

The ways that MC Ride effortlessly transitioned between haunting whispers and ear-piercing screams showcased his incredible range as a vocalist. The pit was a bobbing sea of heads and arms with sporadic whirlpool-like mosh pits forming and collapsing as the night went on.

This performance made me feel that the band truly accomplished one of their goals. In a now-deleted Pitchfork interview, Zach Hill mentioned that they wanted to be a better live band, and this tour has shown that ambition.

Several crowd surfers got plucked by security when brought to the front. For a band known for their limited fan interactions, there were a couple of instances where Ride seemed to interact with the crowd; at one point, he held both fists up, which was replicated by the entire audience in a moment of unity.

The concert felt like it wouldn’t end一in the bestway. I wish it could have lasted forever, but when the opening to Hacker came on, I knew the show had ended. Though he had been roaring for the whole night, MC Ride’s voice never gave out once, nor did Zach Hill or Nick Reinhart’s endurance. As the song ended, Ride gently placed the mic on the floor and left the stage unceremoniously while Zach gave a small wave acknowledging the crowd’s reception.

Despite Ride’s slightly diminished physical energy on stage, the band still managed to captivate the audience from start to finish thanks to the band’s signature contagiously wrathful energy. The atmosphere was electric, with fans singing and dancing, creating an unforgettable experience for everyone present. The crowd’s enthusiasm and the band’s undeniable talent made it a show to remember, leaving fans hopeful for future tours—though this feels like the last roar of living legends.

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About the Contributor
Amin S. Lotfi
Amin S. Lotfi, Staff Photographer

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