Death from Above 1979 start new chapter with LA warm-up gig

death-from-above-1979_optBy Josh Herwitt //

Death from Above 1979 //
Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA
August 14th, 2014 //

It hasn’t been an easy ride for fans of Death from Above 1979.

Just two years after the release of its highly acclaimed 2004 debut You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, the Toronto-based, dance-punk duo disbanded after Sebastien Grainger (drums, vocals) and Jesse F. Keeler (bass, synths, backing vocals) agreed that they could no longer work together.

With creative and stylistic differences pulling them apart, Grainger and Keeler went their separate ways. While Grainger would go on to start his own solo project — signing with the Omaha-based label Saddle Creek Records in the U.S. under the name Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains — before later forming the band Deserts (formerly Bad Tits) with Tangiers guitarist and singer Josh Reichmann, Keeler achieved plenty of commercial success and fanfare in teaming up with his close friend Alex Puodziukas (aka Al-P) to create the electronic duo MSTRKRFT.

It wasn’t until early 2011, though, that Grainger and Keeler decided to give things another try, speaking to each other for the first time in five years and reuniting for a scintillating performance on Coachella’s main stage that April. By September of the following year, DFA 1979 had written new material for the first time in almost eight years, but there was still no guarantee things would last.

Early last summer, the two-piece canceled its appearance at Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City because it had been struggling to write new music together. Merely a month later, Grainger and Keeler axed more shows, this time in Europe due to a “medical emergency,” but left their fans with an ounce of hope after revealing on Facebook not long after that a new album was indeed on its way.

Yet, it wasn’t until a year later that fans would actually hear new music from DFA 1979. Releasing its first single “Trainwreck 1979” early last month, the band disclosed more details about its second full-length The Physical World at the same time.

So, if last Thursday night’s warm-up show in LA for DFA 1979’s upcoming North American/European tour this fall was supposed to make up for lost time, well then, mission accomplished.

Despite the show’s announcement coming a little more than two weeks before the gig, the band sold out the Troubadour just minutes after tickets went on sale. And for those of us who were lucky enough to be in attendance, DFA 1979 treated its fans to a night they won’t forget for a long time.

Playing material from The Physical World for the first time in a live setting, Grainger and Keeler ripped through an epic 21-song performance, playing almost every track from both albums. They stepped on stage and immediately put the pedal to the metal, blasting off with the blistering “You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine” before turning to their newer cuts like “Right On, Frankenstein!,” “Virgins,” “Crystal Ball” and “Government Trash,” which they officially released to the masses yesterday.

For a band that incorporates just bass guitar, drums, vocals and occasionally keyboards, you’d think that DFA 1979’s sound could only stretch so far. But at the Troubadour, Grainger and Keeler proved that the tracks from The Physical World are every bit as good as they play out on the record. And having listened to the new album, which will drop September 9th, already numerous times, I can say that with the utmost confidence. Distorted? Yes. Heavy? Yes. But with this show also marking my third time seeing DFA 1979, it’s hard to find more raw energy coming from solely two musicians in a recording studio or on a stage.

When it came time for the encore, Grainger and Keeler took us back in time, playing all five songs from You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine — including the finale “Do It!,” which was originally released on their 2002 EP Heads Up — with the same ferocity that first took the music industry by storm nearly a decade ago when they joined 90’s alt-rock giants Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age on tour.

While certainly a lot has changed for DFA 1979 since then, they’ve never forgotten how to get the blood pumping fast through their fans’ veins.

You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, Cheap Talk, Right On, Frankenstein!, Turn It Out, Blood on Our Hands, Cold War, Virgins, Crystal Ball, Government Trash, Going Steady, Gemini, Nothin’ Left, White Is Red, Trainwreck 1979, Always On, The Physical World

Little Girl, Black History Month, Romantic Rights, Pull Out, Do It!


  1. Great post, glad some people remember such a cool band, hope things look up for them in the future

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: