The long running Canadian dance/noise punk duo Death From Above 1979 hit Brooklyn recently for the penultimate night of their North American Is 4 Lovers tour. This also marked their first stop here since their show at Elsewhere in 2018 (see pics). It was not for lack of trying though, but as many working bands without huge budgets encountered, the strain of getting back on the road as the worst days of the pandemic waned in 2021 proved difficult and the band chose to wait it out a little longer until conditions were more favorable, disappointing yes, but certainly understandable.
The wait was well worth it though, and I definitely needed the throb of Jesse Keeler’s massive bass riffs rattling my mind and my body. They ripped through a set that spanned the length of their two decade career, hitting multiple songs from each of their albums, even including “Dead Womb” from their classic 2002 debut EP, Heads Up, during the encore. The fans reacted most strongly to the earliest material from 2004’s I’m A Woman You’re A Machine which included faves of mine “Turn It Out,” and “Romantic Rights.” The inclusion of “Blood on Our Hands,” a song the band had not played live in many years, because according to drummer/singer Sebastien Grainger “I kept fucking it up,” earned the most reaction from the crowd. And while I have always loved the early stuff the best (I’ve been listening to them almost since day one), it was also definitely a treat to finally get to see of the material from 2021’s Is 4 Lovers performed live along with the impressive lighting design on stage.
Grainger was endearing and engaging with the crowd, joking throughout the night and stating near the end of the set that several of their songs were banned in Canada and NYC so the cops might show up (which was met by boos and chuckles and I’m certain is definitely not true). They also thanked everyone for showing up and for the lengthy relationship they have had with New York and Brooklyn in particular. (Grainger also took time to thank the venue staff for working on his way out, something that as a venue employee myself always feels good to hear and is appreciated.)
Another Toronto based band, The OBGMs, opened the show and had been on the road with DFA1979 for the duration of the tour. I hadn’t been very familiar with the band before the show so I wasn’t sure what to expect but a band that describes themselves as “a loud boy band that is also a cult” definitely piqued my interest. Suffice it to say, I was totally blown away by their riveting set of high intensity grunge punk which is a sound I’ll never not love. They captured the entire room, going 110% and playing as if they were on a massive stadium stage. Singer/guitarist Densil McFarlane is an absolute powerhouse performer and was in and out of the crowd at least half a dozen times, easily winning over everyone and making an entire room of new fans.
This was one of the strongest first impressions I’ve ever had of a live band and I absolutely can not wait to see them play again. They did mention from stage that they will be back in NYC in early 2023. No further details have been revealed as of yet but you can bet on me making every effort to make sure I’m there. In the meantime while I wait, I’ve been brushing up on their catalog which includes their 2017 self titled album and 2020’s The Ends so I’m ready to sing along next time.
Scroll down for setlist, videos, pics of the show (photos by Kate Hoos)
Setlist: Modern Guy, One + One, Virgins, Turn It Out, Caught Up, Free Animal, Totally Wiped Out, Nomad, Crystal Ball, Little Girl, What Is Red, N.Y.C. Power Elite Part I, N.Y.C. Power Elite Part II, Freeze Me, Going Steady, Blood on Our Hands, Black History Month, Love Letter, Trainwreck 1979, Romantic Rights, Government Trash Encore: Dead Womb, The Physical World