I wasn’t intending to write about anything today. Sure, I wanted to. It’s nothing personal. I just didn’t have any ideas boiling over … until just a moment ago. According to a Pitchfork article, Death Grips scheduled multiple performances, choosing to fulfill their obligations by using “[r]ecorded music, an unmanned drum set, and a giant suicide note.” Maybe, just maybe, it’s some sort of high concept anti-performance art stunt, but, even then, it’s one betrayal too far. I hereby cancel any memberships, real or pretend, in their fan club. Now that they’ve pushed me over the edge (long past time when most others had been already pushed), let’s discuss the trail of immature stunts of the band:
- After signing with a major label, the band released one album, Money Store, to fairly broad acclaim despite the music being pretty inaccessible and composed mostly of toxic fun. OK, that’s fine. Then, when the label refused to release their second album before the first one had run it’s course, the band released the full album, for free, on the ‘net. Fine. It’s a major label and we pretentious alternative music fans are trained to hate the majors. Yes, it violated a contract. Yes, it was dishonest. Worse yet, it wasn’t even great music, just merely OK. Still, everyone involved was big enough or responsible enough to bear any pain. Worse things have happened.
- How did the band make this second album, coming so close on the heels of their first? By cancelling an entire tour in order to hastily blow their advance on a hurried production while staying in a hoity-toity hotel. I can understand cancelling a tour, particularly if the band members are as paranoid and misanthropic as this band. Better than cancelling a tour, though, is not scheduling it in the first place. Still, things change and plans must follow. I won’t excuse them, but, rest assured, I’ll never consider buying a ticket to any future concert (even before I heard of the latest stunt). In other words, they lost me.
- If a sneaky free release is not enough, consider the cover art for this album: a photo of drummer/producer Zach Hill’s erect penis with a magic marker album title written on it. Shocking. Shocking is fine, when done well, thoughtfully, and for a good purpose. Done this way, the schlong shot is just an amped up sophomoric stunt. I can give them the benefit of the doubt, taking this as art, but, in my entirely legitimate opinion it is just stupid, bad art with little real merit. Still, it’s their album cover and their image, both literally and figuratively. With this picture, I became embarrassed to be a fan of their first album. Yes, I said nice things about album #1, while #2 was … well … #2. But I’d much rather spend time defending misunderstood music than Zach’s fun with magic markers. I decided to not buy another album.
- Finally, this no-show concert. People, possibly real fans or future fans, spent money, reserved time, and maybe even budgeted a piece of their heart to bond with the band in what would likely be an intense tour-de-force show (prior concert reviews were really positive). Instead, these fans received the chance to find themselves in a room with other con victims, having spent money to do what they could more easily/cheaply/conveniently/intimately done at home. True, it’s always good for scam victims to know they aren’t alone, but isn’t it better for there to be no victims? Screw with corporations or critics or even club owners, but don’t ever screw with your fans. Ever.
So, in me, Death Grips lost a customer, a fan, a defender. Do they care? No. I think that’s obvious.