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Inanimate Sensation: Death Grips Live In Santa Cruz

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Being a responsible college student, I finished my classes for the day, scrambled to my car, and headed pedal-to-the-metal to Santa Cruz to see the Death Grips play The Catalyst.

Despite only pausing once to pick up some Taco Bell burritos, my friend and I were panicked that we would be late to the show. However, to our immense relief, we arrived to a line still assembling outside the venue.

And sure enough, in typical Death Grips fashion, the show was delayed an hour-and-a-half.

Excitement began to build inside the venue, with lyrics being shouted across the packed floor. “SPREAD EAGLE ACROSS THE BLOCK!” one man screamed violently, likely bursting his vocal chords in the process. “SPREAD EAGLE ACROSS THE BLOCK!” the crowd responded with vigor. Soon enough, the lights went dim, and the show began.

The physical presence of MC Ride, forging across the stage out of the darkness, was enough of a spectacle in itself for the price of admission. As they began the opening, haunting notes to “Lost Boys,” I knew I was in for a show. MC Ride began to whip his body around violently, backed by the nearly barbaric drumming from Zack Hill. The crowd suddenly whipped into a frenzy, forming a hurricane of shoving, jumping, screaming, and…pot smoke.

Soon I found myself tripping over lost shoes, hats, phones, and a variety of other objects that should have been tightly secured before the start of a Death Grips concert.

There was never a weak moment in the show. The tornado of the mosh pit was as relentless as the blaring bass, haunting synths, war-like drums, and terrifyingly screeching vocals coming from the stage.


“I’ve Seen Footage,” perhaps the most “pop” song in the band’s catalog (though only a Death Grips fan would ever be caught saying that), had the audience jumping in unison and passionately hollering the chorus back at the band. “You Might Think He Loves You…” (you get the point!) showed off Death Grips’ noise dynamics at their best. MC Ride’s ferocious acapella section carried the silence of the venue into a whirlwind of blood, sweat, and cheers; after shouting the unforgettable line ,“Fuck I said fucker don’t start shit,” the band proceeded to tear the sound system to shreds with a feral kind of fury. Their performance of “Hacker”–my personal favorite moment of the show–had me believing I was truly a criminal, devoutly declaring, “I know the first three numbers!” and pumping my fists in the air.

As the show came to a close, the audience, full of passionate Death Grips fans, knew there was no chance of an encore. Such an act would be far too mainstream for a band that takes pride in fucking with the music industry, and pushing the barriers of traditional music practices. So, with weak legs, sweat rolling down my chest, and adrenaline still pumping through my veins, I excited the cloud of heat and marijuana and made my way to the car.

I’ve been to countless concerts throughout my life – clubs, stadiums, music festivals, backyards, you name it – and I can say with utmost certainty that this will be a show that I will never forget. Death Grips put on an unforgettable display of talent, passion, energy, and unpredictability that will remain in my memory for years to come. Having been a Death Grips fan for years, but always missing the opportunity to see them perform, this show was like experiencing my first Christmas all over again.

I can now stand with dignity and proclaim to my friends that I saw Death Grips in their full glory.


  1. Lost Boys
  2. Hot Head
  3. Come Up and Get Me
  4. Inanimate Sensation
  5. Get Got
  6. I’ve Seen Footage
  7. You Might Think He Loves You For Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You For It’s Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat
  8. Hustle Bones
  9. Hacker
  10. Lock Your Doors
  11. The Fever (Aye Aye)
  12. Guillotine
  13. No Love
  14. Takyon (Death Yon)
  15. I Break Mirrors With My Face in the United States