Death From Above 1979

Riot Stage, Downsview Park, Toronto ON, September 6

Death From Above 1979Riot Stage, Downsview Park, Toronto ON, September 6
Photo: Stephen McGill
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With a fresh album from reunited Toronto dance-punk duo Death From Above 1979 just a few days away, the band's Riot Fest set was slated to be a live reunion of epic proportions. Then the band played two "secret" Toronto comeback shows the week leading up to Riot Fest, and the wave of excitement peaked and crashed. Saturday night's show was certainly bigger, but the crowd was also filled with passive onlookers dropping in before shuffling off to catch the likes of Billy Talent or the Flaming Lips. After the intimate Edward Day Gallery shows this week, it wasn't the climactic return that it could have been.

That said, Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastien Grainger still know how to put on a show. Rocking his white-overalls-no-shirt look, Grainger pounded it out on the drums and vocals — and still managed to find time to taunt the crowd for probably all being from Barrie — while Keeler (in all black) remained an enigma, albeit one that knows his way around a bass riff. Cuts from You're a Woman, I'm a Machine like the title track, "Go Home, Get Down" and especially "Romantic Rights" drew expectedly big responses from the crowd, but it was also a set that showcased the band's first new material in a decade. "Cheap Talk," "Right On, Frankenstein" and "Gemini" (dedicated to Grainger's wife on what was the couple's fifth wedding anniversary) from the forthcoming The Physical World were particularly excellent.

While diehard DFA 1979 fans would have been better suited to seeing the band reunite in a smaller space with less of a time restriction, Saturday night's set will have won over a new generation of admirers.

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