There is a time and a place for pensive indie rock bands. That time is on a cloudless, 80+ degree day, and that place is a rolling green lawn at an outdoor amphitheater or public park. So unless you live below the Mason-Dixon line, it's no longer that time. Instead, this mid-fall, almost-winter part of the year means that it's time to throw on a jacket, throw back a beer, and throw out your back dancing at a punk concert.
Like all punk music, Death from Above
is meant to be enjoyed live. Not that streaming their albums isn't a good way to enjoy their sound--punks just generally know how to look cool onstage, even if they're not quite sure how to play their instruments. During Wednesday night's show at Brooklyn Steel, Death from Above (the members of who, I should clarify, do very much know how to play their instruments) rolled out a lot of singles from their two most recent albums, 2014's The Physical World
and this year's Outrage! Is Now.
Death from Above 1979 experienced a rough patch in 2006--they split, with bassist Jesse Keeler forming MSTRKRFT with producer Al-P. In 2011, they reunited and began creating and releasing music again, much to the joy of their fans.
The audience received Death from Above's sound enthusiastically, crowding into the main floor of Brooklyn Steel to dance and mosh along. Keanu-Reeves lookalike Keeler rocked around the stage to drummer Sebastein Grainger's vocals. Punks though they may be, Grainger and Keeler are charismatic onstage. They like to rock, but they're also Canadian, and therefore inherently good-natured, friendly seeming guys. "This place smells nice. Everyone smells nice," Grainger commented, during some stage banter a few songs in. It reeked of weed. You'd never guess these are the guys that once threatened the guy who sent them a cease-and-desist letter with dismemberment--until they start playing their particular brand of hugely loud dance punk again. Then you might believe it.
This is not to gloss over the opening act, The Beaches, an all-female rock unit that also hails from Toronto. Their first album just dropped this year, and while all the original songs they played for their set were great, their cover of The Ronettes' "Be My Little Baby" was unexpected and awesome. "Let's dance and mosh and be safe," the keyboard player, Leandra Earl, said, near the end of their set.
"As if!" bassist Jordan Miller shot back.
Punk is not for everyone--during a break outside, I overhead a scandalized guy leaving with his girlfriend declare: "It's just so loud and I'm tired." Punk is
loud, it's energetic, and it's best enjoyed after drinking a caffeinated beverage of some kind, when you need to warm up by dancing some frustration off.