Death Grips took fans to church on Thursday evening, inciting frenzy and fervor at The Catalyst Club in Santa Cruz. True to form, the group delivered a relentless performance, sending dark energy pulsing through the venue from start to finish without pause.
The show began with the band emerging from the shadows and wordlessly commencing “Lost Boys”. Producer Andy Morin descended onto his keyboard grinning like a madman, his chaotic effects and droning noises setting the mood. The intro alone sounded like being in a microwave falling from a ten story building, and things only got more intense from there.
Zack Hill was a vortex of arms, hair, and sweat the whole night, thrashing as he sustained rapid, heavy beats through countless time changes, all the while making it look easy. His drumming was terrifying, awe-inspiring, and hypnotic all at once. Hill provided a spectacle all his own.
Vocalist Stefan Burnett was like a man possessed. Pacing and flailing on stage, his yells blended with the production in such a way that they sounded almost instrumental. His cryptic lyrics and zealous stage presence gave him the image of a paranoid preacher.
The trio followed up their opener with the recently released track, “Hot Head,” which heralds their foray into an even more chaotic sound. From that point on, their energy continued to grow, and the mosh pit with it. A swirling void of writhing fans expanded from the center, drawing in more and more people as the show went on. I myself dove in as soon as I heard the opening kicks of “No Love” and was promptly slapped in the face with a wave of humidity and bass. Props to those who survived the entire duration.
By the end of the set, my ears rang numb while my brain tried to re-acclimate to reality. Death Grips took us somewhere primal and unforgiving on the way down a bottomless pit.
Written and Photographed by Nicholas Troughton