Saturday, May 30, 2015

Death at the Studio at Webster Hall

Bobby Hackney
In 1964 Detroit, Michigan, a man sat his three young sons in front of a television to watch the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show. The next day, one of those sons, David Hackney, found a discarded guitar in an alley and began learning to play it. Soon, Bobby Hackney learned to sing and play the bass and Dannis Hackney learned the drums. By 1971, the sons had a funk band called RockFire Funk Express. The trio switched to hard rock after seeing concerts by the Who and Alice Cooper. The band changed its name to Death in 1973 and circulated demo songs, but broke up by 1977. The brothers then moved to Burlington, Vermont, and released two gospel rock albums as the 4th Movement in the early 1980s. David moved back to Detroit in 1982, and died of lung cancer in 2000, while Bobby and Dannis remained in Vermont and led the reggae band Lambsbread. Renewed public interest encouraged Bobby and Dannis to reform Death with Lambsbread guitarist Bobbie Duncan in 2009. Death released N.E.W. on April 21, 2015.

Death was originally scheduled to headline Irving Plaza tonight but a few days ago the show was downsized to the Studio at Webster Hall. Even so, attendance at this much smaller venue was sparse. The trio played its loud, fast, scrappy, high-energy catalogue from the early 1970s which can be described best as punk rock, except that genre did not exist for another five years. By today's standards, the band sounds like an indie band that has been everywhere -- a bit garage, pop, psychedelic, experimental, metal and punk. The  mix also flirted lightly with funk and reggae, but the rock foundation was louder and clearer than anything else. Death was a curiosity more than anything else, but going forward the band could appeal to those rock fans seeking something left of center in the indie world.

Visit Death at