Friday, 6 May 2011

DFA1979 @ The Forum

Hands aloft, singing every word like Moses has just arrived with them etched onto a stone tablet, the crowd surges and lunges towards the stage. You half expect them to begin talking in tongues. As the lights get brighter and the music gets louder, the sweat pours. The resurrection has begun.

It’s been six years since we’ve heard anything collaboratively from Sebastien Grainger and Jessie F Keeler, but it’s clear from their ever-so- nearly sold-out appearances at the Forum (of which this is the second) that the fans have stayed loyal – praying, watching, waiting. As the lights go down, the roar is almost as deafening as the sound that’s going to follow it. A girl standing next to me raises her arms to clap her approval, revealing a tattoo of the group’s logo (the band members with elephant trunks) on her wrist. For a little known hardcore dance-punk band from a backwater in Canada, with only one full-length album and a particularly acrimonious divorce behind them, that’s no small accomplishment.

As Keeler later points out, bands that sell out The Forum usually have hours worth of material to draw from. DFA1979 play their entire discography, manage a bit of audience matchmaking, and sample Michael Jackson in just over an hour, including an encore.

But what an hour it is. Each riff, as massive as a skyscraper, crawls under your skin and makes you want to thrash and fight and punch and fuck. The pounding drums bring out some kind of deep primeval urge in the crowd, who bounce and sway and fall as one, like a sweaty human centipede, or cells wiggling in a petri dish. And then come the keyboards, crunching and fuzzing with feedback, as heavy as if Metallica and Slipknot held a thrash-off. It never lets up. The intense, arsehole-tearing wall of sound is what I imagine soldiers listen to in Apache helicopters when they’re getting ready to nuke something. If I had to psych myself up for a bombing raid, this and Slayer would be first on my playlist.

And then, no sooner has it begun, it’s over. Battered and confused, blinded by strobes and assaulted by speakers, the crowd stands shellshocked. They may not have cured leprosy, but DFA1979 rose from the dead, converted the non-believers and pacified the faithful. They’re probably backstage right now turning water into wine. Amen to that.

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