Death From Above 1979 played their first show in five years and it was a literal riot. The duo went on at 1:00 a.m. and there were as many people inside as there were those outside clamoring to get in. As soon as the band started playing, the crowd inside the small venue ignited — cameras flashing, spectators pushing, and fans moshing. Outside in the street, the very same scene was happening.
People waited in line for hours to get into The Beauty Bar, which reached capacity somewhere a little before midnight. From inside, you could see people crowding the street and on rooftops. Fans outside saw no reason not to party just as hard as us inside; so, they too sang, danced, and clapped along. Soon, the outside crowd were grabbing the fence and shaking it throughout the first part of the set as DFA 1979 played hard and fast through their songs. But midway through the set the chain-link fence separating the two parties was pulled down. It was a standoff between those inside and outside, with those of us inside alternately fearing and encouraging a stampede.
From where we were, there appeared to be security threatening those outside. Drummer and lead singer Sebastian Grainger shouted to those in the alleyway, “Welcome to the party!” A few people snuck in, but within a couple of minutes the fence was re-erected by the crowd. Rope would be jerry-rigged around the fence to keep it in place for the rest of the show.
Then, about a song later, people were turning and facing the street again. Mounted police were riding through the crowd outside, about eight or nine horses. Reports were coming in of someone throwing a beer can at a horse then being chased down by the police. More police showed up and reports were that people were tased and maced. From inside, we witnessed firsthand a man being repeatedly punched in the face by a police officer. This was all happening as the band played. As DFA 1979 finished “Romantic Rights” (I believe), two or three police walked on stage, followed by a man in charge of the venue.
“The alley needs to be cleared in 10 minutes or the show is over,” the man explained. He was met with a mixed reaction from the crowd — no one wanted the show to end, but those of us inside — or at least myself — had no problems with the people watching. During the ten minutes, police stood by as those in the alley reluctantly dispersed. A report came back that two to three people were arrested, and as of posting, this is still unconfirmed. Meanwhile, Grainger told some yuck-yuck jokes and jawed with the audience about their rehearsals and previous setlists. It was unnerving but commendable.
Photographers scrambled to get shots of the action, while the crowd was assured that the band would continue playing. Once the alleyway looked a bit less crowded, DFA 1979 said “enough with this, let’s play “Pull Out”, and proceeded on with their bonkers, weapons-grade set.
After that, the show proceeded without incident. As far the actual music, it was like these songs were never even on the shelf for five years. To be honest, there’s no better way to describe the show than to say that it caused a literal riot. It was exhilarating, a little terrifying, and very rock ‘n’ roll.