DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979: SOUND ACADEMY, 12/15/2014


Three years ago, Toronto rock icons, Death From Above 1979, graced the very same stage at the Sound Academy that they found themselves playing on this cold December night, but where as that night was all about the duo’s triumphant hometown return after a six year breakup and a resoundingly successful reunion tour of sold out halls and high profile festival appearances, this night was all about showcasing the vitality of the present. The duo released The Physical World, their long-awaited second record, to much critical acclaim and have followed that with a typically exhausting touring schedule.

At a few minutes past 10:30, the roadies flipped the switch that illuminated the ever-present elephant head logo sitting centre stage and with little fan fare Jesse Keeler and Sebastien Grainger took to their allotted positions of bass and drums respectively. It was within the same breath that Keeler strummed out the opening chords to You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine’s “Turn It Out”, and in doing so, created a seething mosh pit that wouldn’t relent for the rest of the evening.

There are always pros and cons to having a band stick to a rigid setlist for an entire tour. The pros are that they know the material inside-out and are usually razor sharp with their execution. The cons are that the element of artistic improvisation is taken out of the mix and with that perhaps a little fun for both musicians and audience. So all that is a preamble to explaining that DFA 1979 is sticking with the same set on this tour and that meant that you are going to get eighteen songs and eleven of them come from The Physical World.


So what can I tell you about the DFA 1979 live show that you don’t already know? It’s bass and drums, so they are a one trick pony…but oh, what a trick! Their songs generally sound the same, so it really comes down to which riff or chorus catches your ear the best. On this night my vote would go to “Cheap Talk”, “Gemini” and “Romantic Rights”… but that’s just me. There is no reinventing the wheel of the songs live, so fans were treated to faithful renditions of old nuggets like “Go Home, Get Down”, “Little Girl” and “Going Steady” as well new faves like “Trainwreck 1979” and “White is Red”.

God only knows how much mileage DFA 1979 v2.0 has in its legs, but if we are to measure it by the quality of the new record, the live show and the response of their fans…then I would say the tank is filled for a long ride!


- Johnny Hooper

MUSIC REVIEWS FROM THE HEART OF TORONTO