After tearing up the Coachella main stage on the festival’s opening day, the three man band Death Grips took to a smaller side venue Saturday with a set that defies casual description.
The KROQ Coachella House on the outskirts of the Coachella grounds played host to a brief set by the Sacramento, Calif. band composed of rapper/vocalist Stefan Burnett, drummer Zach Hill and keyboardist Andy Morin.
They took to the small stage after a short, acoustic set by Shins front man James Mercer, and it couldn’t have been a less likely match. After Mercer’s mellow, heartfelt ballads and love songs, Death Grips stormed through their unique blend of electronica, experimental hip-hop and angry rap. The journey from light and airy to dark and violent couldn’t have been more stark.
It didn’t take long for the band’s pounding beat and barking vocalizations caught the attention of all in attendance. The band’s electronica sound almost borders on Dubstep, but’s rounded out by Hill rabid drums and Burnett’s aggressive, reggae inspired hip-hop delivery.
The band’s audio assault is so thorough and overwhelming in a small venue that their set was delayed as sound technicians struggled to master their mixing board levels to squeeze the Death Grip’s audio rage into what had been a warm, cozy venue out in the Indio desert.
Death Grips was the last act to take the KROQ Coachella House Stage that day, and it was a good thing because I can’t imagine a band harder to follow in the energy department. And, unlike the other acts that played the Coachella House, Death Grips stuck to their moody stage personae and didn’t offer up a friendly, pre-set interview.
It’s too bad because the bad has some good news to share as they recently signed with Epic Records and will release two albums in 2012.
Photo: John Scott Lewinski