Final SXSW Live Shots


TenOak, March 14

Clive Davis allegedly refused to work with Death because they wouldn't change their name. That seems quaint by today's standards until you're in a roomful of people chanting, "Death! Death! Death!" Consider it another indication of how far ahead of its time the Detroit-bred proto-punk band really was. For a band cresting on the release of a celebrated documentary, Thursday's show was surprisingly unpacked, but the faithfuls at the foot of the stage got what they came for. Opening with 1974's "Keep On Knocking" from their only contemporaneously released single, Death summoned the most soul-stirring elements of the Motor City's rock legacy. Bassist/vocalist Bobby Hackney's chops and voice remain intact 40 years later, while his sibling Dannis soloed on drums like he was at Cobo Hall and not the back room of a repurposed upmarket bar. Original Death guitarist David Hackney passed away in 2000, necessitating not one but two guitarists to fill his shoes. Although the set's midsection lost air as Death explored their more epic-oriented material, the crowd roared back to attention when "Freakin' Out" and "Politicians in My Eyes" aired. With mutual gratitude solidified, the post-closing-time encore ended with a drawn-out, Who-like climax. Bombastic? Perhaps, but Death earned it.

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