This week I went to a gig that reminded me how infectious and giddying live music is even if you don’t have an in-depth knowledge of the band’s discography. Death Grips, the inimitable experimental industrial hip hop trio from California, played in Belfast and Dublin over the last few days to bring their May release, Bottomless Pit to Irish fans. Admittedly, I’m not a day one fan. I arrived to the Death Grips listening party pretty late, about two and a half weeks ago to be precise. Even though I wouldn’t be overly familiar with their albums or fully appreciate the development from their debut to now I’ve really enjoyed discovering their distinct sound, digesting it in my own time. Experiencing the unique musical style of their songs with the captivating presence and delivery of MC Ride was the most exhilarating way to become fully immersed in Death Grips.
There’s nothing more exciting than making your way to a venue knowing that you’re moments from seeing one of your favourite bands perform songs that have strengthened friendships or made bus journeys more enjoyable. But there’s that last minute worry that they won’t play your song or maybe something will have a negative impact on the overall night such as poor sound or a bad crowd. This is why it’s nice to go to a gig without expectation. Curiosity overrides anticipation. On the night, I was with two die-hard Death Grips fans which made the gig even more infectious. To be caught in the middle of them and watch them turn to each other with elated expressions when certain songs played matched that feeling of getting a ‘surprise’ gift from Santa on Christmas Day. Then, to see MC Ride and the crowd connect so naturally through the music was another completely enriching moment, one that made you fall in love with them even more because everything was so uninhibited. Leaving the venue, overheated from a combination of sweat and the intensity of the show, was so exhilarating because when looking around the street all that could be seen was groups of really happy people. If that’s the effect live music can have, when it’s done well, then why don’t we go to gigs every night or listen to Death Grips everyday. Think of the happiness it would bring people.
Danny Brown – ‘Pneumonia’ (Warp Records)
It’s been a gratifying October for both Danny Brown and his fans. At the beginning of the month, the Detroit born rapper released his third album, Atrocity Exhibition, a week early because he was so excited to share his new material. The attention gathered by this bold move has been surpassed by the unanimous high praise awarded to the album across social media and reviews. ‘Pneumonia’, the third single from the record, and the video, like so many others in this election year, combines the past and present through vignettes of vintage footage of previous presidential campaigns and debates featuring Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan, as well as Brown himself, assuming the role as a candidate delivering a speech. Combined with these images is one of Brown suspended in chains, almost looking like a marionette doll awaiting a grim ending, much like the people of his country to be fair come the inauguration of the next president of the United States.
Ab-Soul feat. Da$h – ‘Huey Knew’ (Top Dawg Entertainment)
This is the first new solo music video from Ab-Soul to be released since 2014 and Herbert Anthony Stevens IV is just as politically minded as Danny Brown with the direction of ‘Huey Knew,’ with projected images of The White House, Donald Trump and demonstrations against America’s police services providing a backdrop to an otherwise sedate Ab-Soul. This single gives a first glimpse into the Black Hippy member’s upcoming fourth album entitled, Do What Thou Wilt which is due to be released before the end of 2016.
Aesop Rock – ‘Shrunk’ (Rhymesayers Entertainment)
The last time we crossed paths with Aesop Rock was with his video for ‘Kirby’, a song celebrating the cat that was prescribed to the Rhymesayers rapper to help with his therapy. In Aesop’s latest video for ‘Shrunk’, also from The Impossible Kid, we’re given a colourful and pixelated insight into the process and effect his therapy sessions have on his mental health through the medium of arcade games. It’s an extremely easy video to watch and is a nice continuation of the mixture of reality and imagination that has characterised his videos lately. Also, in a very weird (it’s the end of a long, tiring week) way the animated version of Aesop Rock who we watch level up and fight against his grizzly Psychiatrist, Dr. Izzo is a rather dishy representation of the musician.
Teeth & Tongue – ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ (Dot Dash)
Two weeks ago, I featured a video by Fake Palms that was sugar coated with an assortment of sweet treats and pastel backdrops. A few days later on the band’s Twitter profile I noticed some odd rebuttals to a conversation between the Toronto based musicians and an eagle eyed internet commentator. They were accused of copying the aesthetic of another video which was naturally denied. I was struck, then, by New Zealand band, Teeth & Tongue’s video for ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’, which distracts from the song (fortunately) with plates and bowls of experimental and rancid looking meals made exuberant with brightly coloured backdrops. It seems as though videos are either politically charged or overflowing with food these days.