TVD Live Shots: At The Drive-In and Death From Above at the Brixton Academy, 3/9

At The Drive-In and Death From Above sharing the same stage? Is this reality?

That’s the first question that popped into my mind when I saw the show announcement for the legendary Brixton Academy in London. Two bands that paved their way through a crowded clusterfuck of terrible early to mid-2000s alt-rock radio staples—one of them redefined the post-punk genre, and the other stripping rock ‘n’ roll down to its absolute core. Both have influenced many over the years—one could argue that their legacy is locked in place with neither have anything left to prove—yet none of that mattered this particular evening.

First up was Death From Above. Having dropped the unnecessary 1979 identifier from their name, the duo of Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastian Granger are currently touring in support of their first new record in three years Outrage! Is Now. It’s a bit of a different sound for the band as this time they’ve enlisted hitmaker Eric Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, Good Charlotte, Ride) to produce the record. The result is exactly what you would expect—slick production, big hooks, tight grooves, a bit of funk, and several options for keeping the band relevant for their core audience while introducing them to an entirely new one.

When most bands go this route, their live show tends to mimic their polished sound on record. I’m happy to report that this is not the case with Death From Above. In fact, they might have gone the opposite direction just to point out that they are a fucking heavy, heavy band live.

Two massive Orange stacks behind Keller pummeled the crowd. You could feel the music blast through your chest. On the opposite side was a stripped down set of drums with just enough gear to lay the foundation for Keeler’s wall of sound. These guys make more noise than bands three times their size, and they are absolutely killer live.

After a blistering set from Death From Above, the capacity crowd was primed for another beating in the form of the post-punk greatness and the long awaited return of At The Drive-In. Touring in support of their first album in 17 years, the band is back in full force (minus one Jim Ward) with the groundbreaking, genre-bending in•ter a•li•a.

I guess you could call it a return to form, then again these guys never really strayed from the core of what made them so unique—that’s what their side projects, Mars Volta and the underrated Sparta, are for. Either way, Cedric was on fire right out of the gates. You can’t see this show and not have the sense that this is what it might have been like to see the MC5 during their prime. It’s that exact energy coupled with more complex songwriting and neck snapping breaks. The entire show is completely fucking insane, and while we’re at it, incredibly difficult to photograph.

The new album translates perfectly into the live setting, and the new songs actually elevate the existing catalog and set staples. Take one listen to lead single “Hostage Stamp,” then do a search for a live version, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. The set pulled heavily from the new record, as it should, and from the shit flying through the air and the numerous crowd surfers who landed on me in the photo pit, I’d say they quite enjoyed the new material.

DEATH FROM ABOVE

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