This post is going to be about my personal experience seeing the Experimental Hip-Hop group Death Grips in Atlanta and not so much about the history of the band. But considering the history of the band, just buying the tickets is an experience in itself since they “broke up” last year after booking a tour with Nine Inch Nails… and if you look more in their history, there is a chance they might not show up. But thankfully they did, so here’s how that went.
After waiting in line outside The Masquerade for a few hours, plus getting through the intense security (which most people said was odd for the Masquerade) my friends and I went inside to the “Heaven” stage. For those of you who have never been to the Masquerade, there are three stages known as Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. I had never been in the Heaven section of the Masquerade and was surprised by how dark it was. None of the stage lights were on and the only lights available were the LED lights coming from the bar in the back of the room. It gave the room an atmosphere of a place I wasn’t suppose to be… Once I found my spot near the front, I noticed that after a few minutes I was completely surrounded by people. Some people were hanging around and having conversations with their friends, others were crouching in the crowd trying desperately to smoke weed and not get caught. For me, I was more focused on the beats playing over the PA. Most of the music at the beginning was (what I assumed) were danceable beats made by Death Grips. After that, I was shocked to find out that Death Grips was playing unreleased music off their next album and I gotta say, I can not wait for them to drop it. The songs they played for us were some of the fastest tracks I’ve ever heard them release. It completely got my adrenaline pumping and ready for them to hit the stage.
Then out of nowhere, every single light on the stage lit up to a bright Red, which is how it stayed the entire show. No strobe lights, no pretty blues or relaxing yellow lights… Just horror movie red. Then as Death Grips walked on stage, the crowd went absolutely insane and the entire front of the crowd pushed forward. At this point, I had my arms wrapped around complete strangers because there was nowhere to move. Then the music started and the entire crowd began to “wave” back and forth with their bodies by pushing back and forth. Two thoughts popped in my head during this moment, one, how did I lose my friends in under a minute?… and two, I’m thrilled I wore combat boots. Because if I had a dollar for every person who stepped on my feet I could probably hire Death Grips to play a show at my house.
After 10 minutes of pushing and being pushed with little room to breath, I had to go the back of the room to get some water. After getting a drink and catching my breath, I decided to go towards the middle where the mosh pit was happening. After a few minutes of moshing, I managed to slip in a pile of sweat and beer…. Thankfully everyone was kind enough to make sure I wasn’t going to get trampled to death, but still… It was time for a second water break.
After nearly two asthma attacks that made me think of the good old days of needed an inhaler, I decided to take some time to relax and stand in the back and observe the chaotic nature of the crowd and experience the show at a different perspective. At first I was kind of feeling bad about the idea of trying to squeeze my way to the front of the crowd, but as I observed the crowd I realized the entire audience was a revolving door of people who were just as exhausted as I was when I first left the front and people going back because they can breath again.
What made this show so different to me than a lot of the shows I’ve gone to was that I was completely alone for about 90% of the time the band was playing music. Each one of my friends was bouncing around the venue having their own solo experience just as I was and I was completely OK with that. It was far too loud to have a conversation and there was so much going on that it didn’t really matter. Though I did manage to find one of my friends near the end of the show when I got towards the front. I think one of the most fun moments I had was when he locked his arm around me and we managed to bounce off the people trying to bounce off us. It was one of those fuzzy moments where you appreciate having true friends in your life… But more violent than normal.
Near the end when I was standing in the middle of the front row, I was covered in so much sweat and beer that had been thrown into the air that people were pretty much sliding off me as they were bouncing off other people. As long as I kept my legs still, I was able to fully focus on the band.
Overall, as soon as Death Grips walked on stage, the energy of the show didn’t stop. There was maybe 3 second breaks between each song which made you feel like you were getting beaten by their discography. Don’t get me wrong, I had so much fun during this show, but It was honestly one of the most physically / mentally demanding shows I’ve ever been in a long time and I’m thrilled that I finally got to see them perform live after 4 years of listening to their music.
Note: So 9 times out of 10 I bring my own camera to find performers. But I really wanted to experience this show and not have any distractions. Thankfully someone else got some amazing footage of this show and I’d like to share it.