Death From Above 1979
The Independent, San Francisco
December 16, 2023
Photos by Andy Lindquist
Legendary rock duo Death From Above 1979 closed out their touring year at The Independent in San Francisco, delivering a furious 21-song set that reaffirmed their position as one of the most exciting current rock bands.
The key to the band’s sound has always been the interplay between singer/drummer Sebastien Grainger and bassist/keyboardist Jesse Keeler, the two specializing in swinging beats and explosive bass riffs. While Keeler has always been known in rock circles for his incredible sound and playing style, hearing, (no, feeling) it at a concert is something else entirely. The opening riff to “One + One” felt entirely different over a loud PA, with Keeler’s double-amp rig blasting from the speakers and directly into everyone’s chest cavity. Next up in the set was the grooving “Virgins”, which had plenty of shifting tempos and a captivating lead vocal from Grainger, who was equally impressive as he doubled up on vocals and drums.
One of the big highlights of the evening came with the next song, the furious “Turn It Out,” the first track on the duo’s debut LP You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine. The song began with some absolutely wild bass harmonic feedback before turning into a driving rocker, with Keeler’s jackhammer bass-playing leading the way. A few songs later, the band continued to dig into their back catalogue for a ripping rendition of “Nomad”, which saw Grainger howling over a slithering mid-tempo bass riff. The incredible thing about Death From Above is that if you were to close your eyes during the set, as this reviewer did, you’d swear there were more than just two people on stage, as they’ve figured out how to make two people sound absolutely massive.
Between songs, Grainger took some time to talk to the crowd, remarking on how crazy their 20+ years in music have been and thanking the fans for coming out to their last show of the year. Towards the end of Death From Above’s set, they ripped through a particularly punchy version of “Trainwreck 1979”, a surging mid-tempo rocker which was a nice break from the rest of the set’s breakneck intensity.
Finally, the band closed out the main portion of their set with the incendiary “Romantic Rights” and the snappy “The Physical World”, with both songs featuring plenty of tasty bass riffs and wild tempo shifts. Death From Above ended up returning to the stage for a super-quick encore, playing two short and speedy songs: “Right On, Frankenstein” and “Pull Out.” The former was introduced by Grainger as a Halloween song, while the later was introduced as a song “faster than anything by Blink-182”.
For a band now in their second decade of existence, Death From Above still have a crazy amount of youthful energy and enthusiasm. And based on how locked in they were at The Independent, it seems like the train is going to keep rolling for many more years to come.
Death From Above 1979 Setlist:
Modern Guy | One + One | Virgins | Turn It Out | Caught Up | Free Animal | Totally Wiped Out | Nomad | Little Girl | White Is Red | N.Y.C. Power Elite Part I | N.Y.C. Power Elite Part II | Freeze Me | Going Steady | Black History Month | Crystal Ball | Trainwreck 1979 | Romantic Rights | The Physical World || Encore || Right On, Frankenstein! | Pull Out