DEATH GRIPS, The Limelight, Belfast, Wednesday; The Academy, Dublin, Thursday.
When Death Grips first headbutted their way out of your laptop in 2011 with the Guillotine video you just knew they’d be one of the bands of the decade.
The grainy video had MC Ride in a car, roaring like his face was falling off, over digital fizz, a dry-retch bassline and a 10 on the old ultraviolence scale.
The Sacramento trio are nominally hip-hop, but they’ve extrapolated that form to its outer limits, knocking it out of shape with slabs of industrial noise, hardcore punk, gabba, techno, clanking metallic dub and whatever else you’re having.
From their rabid mixtape Ex-Military to their WTF major label release The Money Store and their self-sabotaged dick pic album No Love Deep Web, they’ve become harder to pin down, but their unhinged live shows are the only constant – when they show up that is.
After a few releases of avant-garde noise tangents and a few splits, they returned this year with Bottomless Pit, their most snarling piece of filth yet.
Take the next day off work.
It’s the 14th edition of HWCH, the annual weekend of binge-gigging, industry chatter and a chance to maybe catch the bands you didn’t quite catch at the summer festivals when your highlighter and line-up plans went up in smoke and Buckfast in the middle of the woods.
Over the weekend you’ll be dashing between eight venues to catch a real cross-section of rising Irish acts, from hip-hop and R&B (Word Up Collective) to synthpop (New Portals), stark post punk (Slow Riot) and !!!-inspired punk-funk (Le Boom, pictured). And The Blizzards (LOL).
JAMES VINCENT McMORROW, National Stadium, Dublin, Friday, SOLD OUT
James Vincent McMorrow dissed me on Twitter with a LOL a few months ago because I described him as ‘folk’, and I’ll stand corrected in light of his new album We Move.
Dubliner McMorrow is severing his ties to folk almost as deliberately as Justin Vernon on the new Bon Iver LP 22, A Million.
While Vernon has ditched delicate strums for widescreen electronic collages, McMorrow has taken a similar detour while not straying quite as far.
We Move is full of pristine beats, airy synth pads and 80s soul and funk nods — and Evil is even knocked into shape with a power ballad snare hit.
With producers Nineteen85, Frank Duke and Two Inch Punch on board, We Move sounds like a more restrained Twin Shadow or Arthur Russell shined up and recalibrated for a new generation.
By the way, I just checked and Wikipedia still have him down as ‘folk’, so they should sort that out.
It wasn’t just a curmudgeon throwing in the towel, though — Holmes has always dug deeper than transient dance music trends. Within a few years of hosting techno nights at Sugar Sweet in Belfast in the 90s, his albums, mix CDs and notably his 2000 BBC Essential Mix, threw everything from psych-rock, cosmic jazz, krautrock and hip-hop at the wall and he managed to make it stick.
He’s taking over the RHA for a five-hour set tonight, that’ll take in all of the above and loads more, including rare soundtracks and hopefully some cuts from his Unloved dream-pop project.
Often reductively called post-rock, Texas duo Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride create impressionistic ambient drones with processed guitars, strings and keys, branching out on the same family tree as Erik Satie, Brian Eno and William Basinski.
After a prolific spurt of six albums between 1995 and 2001, their last album was the masterpiece Stars of the Lid and Their Refinement of the Decline in 2007. They’ve only played a handful of gigs since then so go this weekend in case you have to wait another decade.
NICKELBACK, 3Arena, Dublin, Sunday, 59.59-69.59; SSE Arena, Belfast, Monday
Nickelback are probably the most sniggered-at rock band in the world, so don’t be surprised if fans are heading to these gigs in disguise, or covering up their Nickelback T-shirts with something less embarrassing, like Jedward tees.
The band’s dude-bro riffs and Chad Kroeger’s bizarre strangled croak hit that sweet spot between David Brent’s iPod and a Budweiser ad, and with tens of millions of record sales, they’re having the last laugh.
There’s no point trying to analyse their popularity or why they’re so panned — there’s even an academic study on why they’re hated so much. They’re totally bulletproof so let’s just go along with it.
It’s just the perfect music for rocking out like Jeremy Clarkson while saying, “It is what it is”, and they’ll still be here grinding it out when all your favourite cool rappers and DJs are washed up.
JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, 3Arena, Dublin, Monday
The YouTube blurb for Jean Michel Jarre’s 1997 concert to 3.5 million people in Moscow calls it his “most spectacular concert to date”, suggesting he may yet beat his own world record.
The synth pioneer has long been a byword for flamboyant maximalism and impossibly grand gestures — from playing his Laser Harp while using the Houston skyscrapers as his projection screen, to having aliens invade the Eiffel Tower in 1995.
Jarre’s latest tour marks his new collaborative project Electronica – which needed to be spread over two albums because every single artist he asked agreed straight away.
It features techno, industrial, new age synths and even trance, from the last five decades of electronic music – from Tangerine Dream and Gary Numan, to Jeff Mills, Fuck Buttons and Gesaffelstein.
These new tracks will get reworked in the 3Arena, as well as iconic pieces from Oxegene, Equinoxe, Rendez-vous, and the biggest laser show you’ve seen since, well the last time he was here.
- Published in Irish Star