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Review: Death Grips return to Minneapolis on their long-awaited comeback tour

The industrial hip-hop trio commanded the Fillmore for one of the most high-energy shows in the Twin Cities this year.
Image by Ethan Lambert
Death Grips performing at The Fillmore on September 13, 2023.

Returning to Minneapolis for the first time in six years, the trailblazing industrial hip-hop trio Death Grips headlined a concert at the Fillmore and delivered a set that felt like a highlight reel of their inventive 2010s output.

The crowd of hipsters, goths and sweaty shirtless dudes was packed like sardines on the floor of the Fillmore as they awaited the sole act of the night, Death Grips. The ensuing performance proved to be a satisfactory release of energy for both the musicians on stage and the nearly 2,000 fans inside.

Amid speculation the band had broken up, fans were surprised last year when the lineup for the Las Vegas musical festival Sick New World included the group. This was the first Death Grips news since the pandemic hit, and the band subsequently announced a full North American tour.

Taking the stage in total darkness, Death Grips went from zero to 100 by opening the setlist with “System Blower” and “I’ve Seen Footage,” two noisy highlights from their decade-defining classic album “The Money Store.” As the distorted melodies of “I’ve Seen Footage,” one of Death Grips’ best-known tracks, rang out, the mosh pit was set ablaze with energy.

Impressively, vocalist and rapper MC Ride, a man in his mid-40s, still exudes the stunning level of primal ferocity he displayed across the group’s six studio albums, commanding the room effortlessly despite being decades older than much of the crowd.

For just over an hour, there was a flurry of bodies coalescing in the mosh pit for almost every song, with circle pits forming for some of the most high-powered tracks such as “Get Got,” another fan favorite from “The Money Store.”

By and large, the industrial trio stayed faithful to the studio renditions of the songs during their Minneapolis live performance. However, the band changed it up with their rendition of “Bubbles Buried in this Jungle,” one of the strongest songs off their 2016 album “Bottomless Pit.” On the studio recording, the track is driven by an electronic bassline and industrial-electro-trap production. But, when performing it live, the band took it into a more noise-rock direction defined by distorted guitar and Zach Hill’s loud, cymbal-heavy drum performance.

The set hit its climax with the song “Black Paint,” a single from their, as of now, final studio album “Year of the Snitch.” It is a visceral industrial rock track that lends itself to hardcore pogo-dancing and left many concert attendees breathless.

The final song, “Hacker,” was the peak in energy from both the band and the crowd, as MC Ride jumped up and down on stage — and the fans on the floor following suit — to one of the group’s most iconic lyrics, “I know the first three numbers, I’m in — I’m in your area, I’m in your area.”

Appearing as silhouettes for the entire show because of the deliberate choice to have as little front-facing stage light as possible, Death Grips were as mysterious and energetic as ever on their 2023 tour. While the prospect of new Death Grips material would be exciting after all these years, the typical Death Grips die-hard that attended the show was probably indifferent to this fact, as the band showing up to perform at all is a miracle in and of itself given their track record

Death Grips do not come to the Twin Cities often, so, for many, this felt like their only opportunity to see them in person. The band met expectations by putting on a visceral live show of experimental music, actualizing their signature primal energy in front of the Twin Cities crowd — you can not say the same for just about any other band fronted by a man in his 40s. Death Grips has still got it.

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