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DFA 1979 – Sent from Above!!


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How to describe a Death From Above 1979 live performance after 5 years of inactivity in one word??? Intense. Chaotic. Unbelievable.  If you had no intention of moshing, crowd-surfing, or leaving the Sound Academy without minor injury then you had NO business standing near the front of the huge crowd that had gathered to witness the reunion of heavy post-punk rock duo, Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler.

The release of their 2004 debut LP You’re A Woman I’m a Machine went Gold in Canada and it was this album plus a remixed and B-side album entitled Romance Bloody Romance, that earned them a cult following of those who loved punk rock and also those who just wanted to dance and get crazy.  The breakup of DFA in 2006 led to quite a substantial amount of disappointed fans.  So it was no surprise the announcement of their reunion caused  quite a stir amongst the hipster/indie crowd.

Although Sound Academy is not my favourite choice of venue, it was large enough to contain the anxious, eager and rowdy crowd that filled the place to capacity.  Bishop Morocco and The Bad Tits opened up the show, providing the audience with a tiny dose of what we were in for. The Merch table was quite busy with a large assortment of T-shirts with the quintessential, surrealistic logo of the guys and their classic elephant trunks.  If you ever wondered why, as I did, that they chose Elephant trunks to establish their image, it’s because “We wanted our band to be like an elephant in your living room,” states Jesse F. Keeler, the bass player and one half of DFA 1979.  Their sound can most definitely be likened to a herd of elephants crashing through your home when you turn that volume up.

Their visual aesthetic was just as poignant as their sound.  Sebastien showcased his bleached-blonde shaggy haircut that unfortunately obscured his face most of the show, as he head banged non-stop while decked out in white.  A stark contrast to Jesse, who struck an intimidating figure as a broad-shouldered giant with long black hair and a beard and clothes to match.  Dark and sinister paired with Goodness and light seemed like an accurate portrayal of a band whose dark beats are often accompanied by romantic imagery and longing.  DFA are as much evidence as you’ll ever need that Yes! opposites do attract!

For a band that once described themselves as “a punk band with pop aspirations” they have accomplished so much more than they had first thought they were capable of.  Their distinctive sound consists of only drums and bass, heavy distortion and manipulation, sexy, visceral beats that create a wall of noise that drowns out even your innermost thoughts. Hard to believe all of this is accomplished by two guys but that is what they do, and they do it incredibly well. The dirty bass lines, and thundering drumbeats combined with Grainger’s drawn out rock howling left me in awe.  The crowd was ecstatic and pulsating with energy, everyone was sweating and I had to remove myself from the crowd before I was blinded by an elbow.  This was not the kind of crowd that would tolerate any hand held recording or prolonged camera snapping.  It was aggressive, savage and reckless, primal yet enthralling.  The type of show where you just allow yourself to get swept away and party like it’s your last night on Earth or head home early.  No half-assing it allowed!!

Despite feeling intimidated and kind of old, I have to say it was an awesome show and one of the craziest I’ve ever been to.  And to think they’re doing it all again tonight.  That’s right, not only did DFA reunite, play countless festivals and award their hometown of Toronto with a crazy show, they decided to do it two nights in a row back to back. Unbelievable!

1979 is the year of my birth
1979 is the year of off the wall
1979 is the year of pleasure principle
1979 is the last year of the last cool decade
1979 is scratched into my arm
1979 is scratched into my arm
1979 is scratched into my fucking arm

~ Sebastien Grainger, Death from Above 1979

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