Death From Above 1979, Scala, London

Death from Above 1979 are good at shattering expectations. For starters, they give Canada's reputation for being a quiet kind of country a thorough going over. For this infernally sweaty, sold-out gig, Toronto's hot-blooded and hairy DFA'79 set their amps to "shred" and deliver a dense, detailed and ribcage-rattling racket. It's mightily visceral stuff.

More startlingly still, DFA'79 make this sound out of the two members often considered the most interchangeable in a band. While the similarly two-strong White Stripes at least have a guitarist, DFA'79 only have a bassist, Jesse Keeler, who occasionally fiddles with a small keyboard, and a drummer, Sebastien Grainger, who sings with a strangled-banshee wail. (They have a nice Stripes-style line in the mystique of how they met, too. At a gig? In a gay club? On a pirate ship? Keep guessing.)

The results might lack the vivid colour and charisma of the Stripes, but Keeler does wring a formidable degree of differing shapes from his bass. The cover of the duo's debut album, You're a Woman, I'm a Machine, sees them sporting elephant masks, and you fancy that if a pachyderm could play bass guitar, it would come up with something like Keeler's Black Sabbath-sized riffs. Led Zeppelin and Queens of the Stone Age also spring to mind as comparison points, which is pretty good going for an alt-rock band made up of a mere rhythm section.

There is a kind of art-rock streak at DFA'79's core, but they make their music genuinely move. The duo had to change their name from DFA to DFA'79 after legal protests from the NYC disco-punk duo and label DFA, a problem they solved by simply tagging on the year that Grainger was born. The irony is that DFA'79 wouldn't be so out of place on their legal enemy's roster. They sound like straightforward noiseniks as the concert starts, comparable to another duo, the rousing alt-rock festival favourites Lightning Bolt. Gradually, though, the controlled chaos of Grainger's bass-drum pounding and Keeler's fuzz-flavoured bass-bothering gives way to properly propulsive rhythms and beats. It's death-metal disco, in a nutshell.

There's something very dirtily sexual about this mix of grinding and grooves, and it gets both the crowd and the band hot and bothered very quickly. Grainger arrives on stage wearing a preppy diamond-effect pullover, but he's soon stripped to his waist, sweating in sympathy with the crowdsurfers while not missing a beat.

It all ends as it should, too, only an hour after it started, with a barrage of roof-worrying noise, plentiful howling and the dishing out of a beating to an already harassed-looking drumkit. Sure, DFA'79 are a kind of concept band, based on a simple, minimalist conceit. But the results are surprisingly, even startlingly virile and invigorating.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

    Rebranding Christmas

    More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up