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Coachella 2011: Death from Above 1979 Drop a Party Bomb

Death, from behind.
Death, from behind.
Timothy Norris

"How's this for a first show?" Death From Above 1979 drummer Sebastien Grainger asked Coachella's main stage audience. Yet, Grainger's question wasn't exactly the truth. "Okay, I'm not going to play down the fact that we had a riot at South-By-Southwest. Cops were on stage and... a horse got punched." And with that confession behind them, DFA1979 were ready to dish out their horse-punchingly powerful take on sexy punk. Yeah, it wasn't the first show of DFA1979's renunion tour, but the crowd didn't seem to mind. After all, the disco-punk duo have returned after a five year hiatus, a fact that they flaunted on giant hanging tombstone mural behind them, emblazoned with "DFA 1979 2001-2006." It was a reminder that five years ago, Jesse Keeler's buzzsaw bass and Grainger's garagey drums and vocals were foremost providers of punk you could dance to. But after one killer album, You're a Woman, I'm A Machine, they called it quits. Keeler went on to front electro MSTRKRFT and Grainger went solo, but on Coachella's stage, the Canadian twosome picked up precisely where they left off and rocked like it was the last show of their lives.

Keeler, dressed in all black, sauntered to center stage and wrangled the grimey growls of "Turn It Out" from his white Rickenbacker bass. Grainger, clad in all white, dug into his set, leaning back his head to blast his half-shouting-half-singing vocals. As they powered through the swaggering set, it was easy to imagine them back in the Toronto, jamming in their parents' basement and disrupting neighbor's sleep patterns with their noisy rock-outs. But now, even on Coachella's biggest stage, they broadcast that same angsty and sexual energy that teens channel into guitars.

They ripped up their much dance mix-compatible "Sexy Results" and "Romantic Rights," and exploded into the straight-forward punk rockers from their only album. With each song, Grainger shed layer by layer of clothing, dispensing of a white dinner jacket, down to just to a bare chest revealing tattoos of a talking parrot and a pair of sunglasses. Still wearing what appeared to be a witches' hat, he awkwardly tried to engage the audience with some open-ended questions. "Did you see Wiz Khalifa? Did he play music? Did you see Nasir Jones?" he implored with no response from the crowd. "Come on. Nas. You know his name," he tried to clarify, before laughing off the awkwardness. After the half-decade away from DFA1979, Grainger's stage banter could use some work, but the duo still can drop a party bomb like none other.