I will confess to initially being more than a bit mystified by the hype surrounding the return of Toronto duo Death from Above 1979. That’s not because I hadn’t enjoyed the band’s You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine LP — sure, I recalled enjoying it quite a bit — but the band’s quick ascent, dissolution relatively soon thereafter, and return to performing five years later isn’t exactly the sort of feel-good “unheralded band gets due decades later” sort of comeback story that invests a reunion announcement with real, um, meaning. In this age of music oversaturation and decreasing buzz band lifespans, plenty of bands release one strong album and call it quits. Why was DFA1979 any different?
Regardless of the reasons, it’s clear that something is different about this reunion, and I’m thinking it has something to do with the group’s unique mix of dancey low-end and noisy proto-metal, which won and sustained a devoted audience despite surely being too dancey for the metalheads and too heavy for the dance crowd. It also might be the promise of an intense, muscular live show that constantly puts the duo’s talents to the test.
I didn’t think to revisit You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine until after seeing the band live recently, in a set that was plagued by sound difficulties but managed to deliver the goods nonetheless. At that show, Sebastien Grainger and Jesse F. Keeler were visibly frustrated, partly from the immediate difficulties of fucked-up monitors, but also partly, I think, because the band wanted to deliver the best show possible for the enthusiastic mob below them.
I’m assuming that in part based on the explanation Sebastien offered on the band’s web site about why the group decided to perform again:
2011 has a nice ring to it & if youâ€™re so inclined, it may be the last year ever! So why not say YES? Why not say YES to Coachella? Why not say YES to playing the music we designed to be an undeniable source of power? Why not say YES to stirring up a writhing pit of sweaty humans? YES to riots! YES to heavy music! YES instead of maybe, and YES to make death your adviser and remind yourself always, that this is not a dress rehearsal. This is the big show.
Should that infectious enthusiasm be matched by good sound, as is likely for Saturday, and it could be something explosive.