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A small army of bass heads gathered at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco on May 31 to be among the first to witness electronic music’s newest and heaviest supergoup, Destroid.
The mass of impatient fans lurched back and forth in anticipation, mimicking the movement of the familiar logo swaying along with the thick curtain on which it was projected. Then, that curtain began to rise. The lights dimmed, and a thick layer of fog gave way to three armor-clad figures, two wielding guitar-shaped MIDI controllers and one seated confidently behind a set of drums. Among the machine-like voices and sounds emanating from the stage, a deep, robotic tone beckoned: “San Francisco.”
Destroid had landed.
For Excision, Downlink, and KJ Sawka, the moment had come. Nearly a year of promotion, cryptic teasers, and 10 original tracks have finally led them to the stage of the Warfield, where they stood before the cream of the Bay Area bass music crop, each wrapped head to toe in futuristic, illuminated armor. Clustered patterns of LED lights built into the three intricately detailed exoskeletons pulsated in color-coordination with both the stage lights and those incorporated into the molten rock-inspired platforms beneath Excision and Downlink’s robotic feet. The initial impression made by the trio’s striking performance getups produced an effect similar to encountering a vengefully reconceptualized Daft Punk enraged on PCP: Futuristic, abrasive, menacing.
The two leading men clutched their custom guitar controllers while Sawka’s double kick drum set let out a sharp and violent BOOM, POP!, and their coming-out party was underway.
The most entertaining and awe-inspiring aspect of the show, however, was not the set of suits made from space-age electronic evil. It was that, whether cranking out their original productions or “covering” others’, all tracks were woven together from manually cued samples and synth stretched across an actual drum beat. Sawka led the team seamlessly from heavy electro house like Annihilate to dubstep bangers like one of their first of the night, Flip The Switch.
It’s too soon to tell whether or not this will spark a new era of “analog” drumming, but one thing is certain: Although Sawka makes it look easy on drumstep filth like Mark Instinct’s Bad Seed, the bass field would look far different had it always been customary to use a real drummer. Keep in mind his credentials, though. We’re talking about the guy whose robot-like rhythm and drumming arms recently powered the legendary live electronic outfit Pendulum, so this isn’t his first rodeo.
Sawka, looking like the unholy spawn of Predator and someone from the Tron universe, wowed from start to finish. While simply conceiving some of the deadly drum patterns that power Destroid tracks requires some serious talent, KJ Sawka struts up to the kit with his game-face on, knocking out over an hour of prime percussion work, at a level impossible for most humans.
Sawka’s unexpected yet unabated drum solo mesmerized before the other two joined in to show the crowd who the bass-bosses are with Excision and Downlink’s Crowd Control and rounded out the energy-laden and refreshingly original show with Activation and a handful of popular covers. With the lowering of the curtain on the first-ever Destroid show, the trio were given their inaugural rabid request for an encore, and they obliged with the driving Ohhh Nooo from none other than Excision.
With overall expectations for the sold-out debut night floating between sky-high and extraterrestrial, opener DJ Dials didn’t disappoint. The well-loved local boy acknowledged the stakes and delivered an appetizing, bass-heavy set offering up nothing but smooth transitions and creative selections, including a delightfully tasteful trap remix of Better Off Alone (it could’ve been awful, but it was quite the opposite).
After Dials wrapped up his set, Designer Drugs took the stage and continued where he left off in working the already out-of-control crowd into an increasingly larger frenzy. The dastardly dance duo proceeded to pump them full of electro house for about an hour without letting up. Needless to say, the lingerie- and LED-clad crowd at the Warfield was as primed as a live explosive for the imminent onslaught of bass.
For fans lucky enough to be among the first to witness the latest project from the three musicians, Destroid shook the floor and rattled the status quo. Based on the staggering number of Destroid T-shirts dotting the venue, one could confidently assume that the headliners had at least played one show live together, but no. This was their first show ever, and their already-loyal fanbase showed up ready to be blown away–and they were.
so insanely sore today. god damn those suits are fucking heavy. can barely move my neck!— Excision (@Excision) June 2, 2013