Deaf From Above: DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979’s Wall of Sound Wants to Destroy You

Death From Above 1979, Ashley Tanasiychuk photo

So there’s this wall, see. It’s called the Wall of Sound. It’s big and noisy and mean and crotchety, and it’s got these two guys etched onto it with elephant snorks – that’s what they should be called – for noses. It’s the Death from Above 1979 wall – built in 2001, torn down in 2006, rebuilt in 2011 – and it’s standing right in your way.

You wanna climb it? Feelin’ lucky, punk? You can throw your little body on top of the kids moshing next to you and try, why don’t you? Or you can be like Asshole, taking a running jump from the BACK of the stage (where the fuck’d he come from?) and dive into the first four rows, scattering the already-rattled kids like bowling pins. You can bosh out the press photogs with your crowd-surfing limbs and getescorted out by the security guards, but grab someone in the front row as you do, so both of you guys can scream the lyrics to “Going Steady”. Or you can get so drunk (hello guy at back in plaid shirt or girl in skirt!) that you lurch around either like a bumper car into people (the former) or, like the latter, do the “reverse Zombie” (said Ashley) and stagger backwards into us.Sebastien Grainger, Death From Above 1979, Ashley Tanasiychuk photo

The Deaf From Above Wall of Sound wants no-one. It wants to destroy your ears and play songs that aren’t punk, aren’t hardcore, are like a fuzzball assault of garage rock noise on meth. I dunno what to call it, but there, I did. The Wall of Sound wants to pour boiling hot tar down itself so you can’t climb it. It laughs in the face of your pain. It starts with “Turn It Out”, and it ends with “Losing Friends”. “Romantic Rights” is a MONSTER on the Wall, and spits hellfire at you while you thrash along. “You’re a Woman I’m a Machine” breaks the notch by turning it up 100. See the rest of the setlist below if you dare, it may burn your eyes.

And those two guys? Sebastien Grainger is all in white – just to fuck with your head. Even his hair is a weird emo bleached, though the mustache isn’t, and he beats his drums like they insulted his sister. JFK, Jesse F Keeler, is the original punk Mr. Movember, all handlebar ‘tache and distortion guitar attack pose. Grainger is the chatty one, dedicating “Dead Womb” to local hardcore legend Andy Dixon, whose label Ache Records put out DFA albums Back In The Day. “Vancouver was the first place that paid attention to our band” Grainger says. He later complains about his sweaty balls.

He fucks up the intro to uhhhh….was it “If We Don’t Make It, We’ll Fake It”? But starts again. He makes some funnies, riffing about the guy in the front row with the dreads (“I knew you’d be here, man, I had a dream”), and how Stage Left of the audience is “Like our YouTube comments section: ‘Fuck you!’ ‘You Suck!’ ‘We Love You!’ ‘Nice hair!’”

Sebastien’s jolliness makes you think you can climb the Wall of Sound, but you cannot. So at the end, you leave, peel out your industrial pro earplugs and still hear ringing. The Wall is a bastard.\m/

All photos by – and with thanks to – Ashley Tanasiychuk. Visit his website at Click on the pics to embiggen.

Death From Above 1979 at the Commodore Ballroom, November 19 Set List

  • Turn It Out
  • Dead Womb
  • Going Steady
  • Too Much Love
  • Cold War
  • Black History Month
  • Go Home, Get Down
  • Little Girl
  • Blood On Our Hands
  • You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine
  • Pull Out
  • We Don’t Sleep At Night
  • Romantic Rights
  • Do It


  • You’re Lovely (But You’ve Got Problems)
  • If We Don’t Make It, We’ll Fake It
  • Losing Friends

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