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Death From Above 1979 - Babylon, Ottawa, 9/5/2005

  by Andrew Carver

published: 17 / 5 / 2005

Death From Above 1979 - Babylon, Ottawa, 9/5/2005


Much acclaimed synth act Death from Above 1979 recently toured their native Canada. Andrew Carver watches them play an exuberant set to an excited crowd at the Ottawa Babylon

Outside the reconditioned strip joint that is Ottawa’s Babylon nightclub, the air was cool and breezy. The pleasant night ends past the threshold: The air is swampy with sweat, and a band on stage contorts under red lights as a female vocalist – out of sight from the rear of the packed crowd – coos to art damaged rock. This is controller.controller; frequently described as danceable, punky and nocturnal they certainly live up to their billing. Singer Nirmala Basnayake croons as the band sways and surges to a New Order inspired thrum. As their set concludes several youngsters from the all ages crowd leap on the stage. Death From Above 1979 has garnered the attention of the cognoscenti with their heavy rhythmic pulse and snappy drums. Bearded Jesse F. Keeler arrives to hoots of joy from the crowd. He positions himself between a pair of towering bass amplifiers and a synthesizer. Drummer Sebastien Grainger takes the stage and is soon thumping out a beat as Keeler’s bass grinds out hard, fuzzy riffs. The audience has turned into a seething mass. They slow down into an undulating, stage-crowding mass as the stifling heat begins to have its effect. “Can we open a door?” inquires Grainger. “Yeah, I feel like I’m breathing air back through my underwear,” adds Keeler. The audience’s willingness to crush themselves up against the stage leads Keeler observes “It’s like that Eurythmics song … some people need to be abused.” This precedes a game attempt to perform said tune, but soon enough it’s back to more of the group’s doom disco. There’s also some crowd-pleasing theatrics from Sebastien as he grabs a microphone and jumps on a monitor, looming over a sea of outstretched hands. By this point the crowd has almost melted into one bubbling beast, flailing to Keeler’s riffs as it inexorably sways forward, coming ever-closer to bursting onto the stage - at one point the soundman is seen splayed over the monitor, shielding it with his body as the crowd twists back and forth. They return, Sebastien wears only his underwear, Keeler still has his shirt on. Their final song segues from Danzig’s 'Mother' to a snippet of Rush’s 'Tom Sawyer' before a final fusillade of heavy bass riffs. They leave to enthusiastic applause. It’s 11 p.m. - the young crowd thrusts back out into the cool evening, wrung out and satisfied.

Picture Gallery:-
Death From Above 1979 - Babylon, Ottawa, 9/5/2005

Death From Above 1979 - Babylon, Ottawa, 9/5/2005

Death From Above 1979 - Babylon, Ottawa, 9/5/2005

Death From Above 1979 - Babylon, Ottawa, 9/5/2005

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You're A Woman, I'm A Machine (2005)
Enjoyable debut album from two piece bass and drums act Death from Above 1979, which comes across as "something like Queens of the Stone-age doing post-punk/ new wave songs"

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