Live: Hackneyed Anarchy & Backing Tracks. Death Grips, Electric Ballroom.

Whether you're more into your guerrilla mixtapes or your average hip hopping, Billboard Hot 100 molesters you'll doubtless have an opinion on Stefan Burnett's Death Grips. That said, how staunchly would you stand by this carefully constructed semblance of stance? That is to say that when NØ LØV∑ D∑∑P W∏B (or No Love Deep Web, or whatever) 'leaked' last month, were you swift to extol one of the more belligerent battles waged against a major in recent times – as did we – or did the inner sceptic sniff out a 2k12 #conspiracy? I've still little to no clue as to what really went down as September turned to October, as it seems does-slash-doesn't pretty much everyone outside of that since published chain of BCC-shaded slander and e-vitriol. Usually, though, the live show aids in scratching away at the thick veneer of mystique that any artist may cower behind whilst concealed somewhere or other within the intangibilities of the world wide web. It is the incisive fingernail of sorts, which is a fairly apt analogy given the number of antenna-like fingers raised to waggle to the hype-y glitch of, like, Guillotine.

Though alas, the 'Grips haven't had a whole lotta luck when it's come to UK dates of late: a stint supporting Slayer as part of ATP's I'll Be Your Mirror offshoot earlier on in the year was scribbled out swifter than it was originally chalked up, as was a briefly slated Field Day slot, the trio instead opting to focus their volatile attentions on hammering out this aforesaid record which has seen them emerge from the underground, transcend the antiquated conventions of the industry, and rise up to become one of the most talked about acts of the year. The NME Cool List (a hallmark in itself of how antediluvian our list-obsessed press oligarchs can be) is to be published later on in the month, and you can bet yo' bottom dollah Burnett will be right up there somewhere. Reconvening with the now though, he's in the building, we're crawling the floors below like antsy mites, and the dancehall-infested throbs of techno behemoth The Bug are savaging our senses, as Kevin Martin makes a forceful return to the fore.

As eardrum dud-dudun-thumping as the likes of Skeng and Poison Dart may be, Martin ain't owt other than an invigorating opening. True, his supporting turn stokes already asmoulder hearsay of Ninja Tune being poised to steal and snap Death Grips up in the wake of that Epic fallout. Yes, it of course also prompts vivid recollections of a since glorified dubtronica movement that was all trading estate raves and skanky powders. But many clumps of what is by now a baying multitude wouldn't even have been about the first time of asking. Acting, rather. For tonight's audience is a somewhat intriguing societal cross-section of West Country Lost Boys draped in leviathan dreadlocks, sworn ATP fanboys, and wide-eyed kidz (Lil Boys, almost exclusively) who, were HMV shop assistants a little more vigilant, would surely be prohibited from purchasing any record with that somehow iconic Parental Advisory: Explicit Content tattooed onto its sleeve like a peely henna. No The Money Store for them, then. Though it's this influx of youth that is most unprecedented, and by the time Burnett strips down to his scrawny torso the teeny squeals are of a frequency to syphon off every red cell from an expeditiously curdled blood. You want an incarnation of the quintessential 21st century internet band? You got it.

This is unhinged hysteria to dramatically affront any notions of such rabidity being reserved for Arenas O2 and Wembley only. The artillery-like lyricisms of Get Got get barked back up toward Burnett even from the back of the 'Ballroom. "Get get get get/ Got got got got/ Blood rush to my head lit hot lock/ Poppin' off the fuckin' block knot/ Clockin' wrist slit/ Watch bent thought bot", the room booms as one. This is impenetrable gobbledygook to have been memorised with obsessive compulsion, as may have been that of an eternally maudlin Barlow once upon a yonder '90s time. Words not to be minced, but aside from the abrasive beats and radio-unfriendly rhymes Death Grips have come to resemble something of a pop band. Not the type to soothe Edith Bowman and her spawned beloveds into a mawkishly saccharine snooze, but rather that which attracts those perpetually costumed in spray paint black denims and dusted with nests of vivid hairspray to this repugnant part of the world.

There's a sense that we've been played as such; as hapless moths drawn to the two modest screens to flank Burnett. These project all manner of hackneyed anarchy for an hour or so: municipal edifices aflame, the snaps of snarly Rottweilers, and so forth. It's somewhat contrived. And indeed, midway through a faintly anticlimactic finale of Lock Your Doors, he'll thrust a stage invader right in the mammaries and out of sight in a ruthless display of disaffection. Though once he's packed up his laptop and towelled down his still glistening trunk, they embrace. Was it but another Exmilitary impression of unfounded aggression? Maybe. And there are still far too many maybes when it comes to Death Grips.

The other qualm with the live show is that no matter how infectiously caustic The Fever (Aye Aye), and Blackjack, and Come up and get me may be – gloriously turbulent and erratic listens even on their respective records – much of that energising spontaneity is lost when you're merely pandering to unchanged backing tracks, or pussyfooting about the live element.

A depilated Zach Hill savages a decomposed drum kit. He looks gaunt to the point of unwell; a pogrom escapee forever possessed by a debilitating grief. Then, seemingly summoning his every strength, he sends a tom tumbling to the electrifying Mac spasms of a standout Lil Boy. Though otherwise, his contribution is but a case of rattling off rounds of AK-47 snare more or less in time to backing as unremittingly coarse as Camden metal. But this is far more premeditated than that racket. Concertedly, almost unapologetically so.

So where does that leave Death Grips? Well, a flyer for a show midway through next year down the road at the significantly more sizeable Kentish Town Forum is vigorously driven into every departing palm. That's half an answer. Although where do our presiding opinions wind up? In the same uncommitted void inhabited by they themselves and all unsigned. Doubtless Burnett's still "got some shit to say" sometime, to someone, on some label but is he spitting all this "just for the hell of it" as he bays at every possible opportunity in tonight's closing minutes? It certainly feels that way at times. For although a rebel, he is arguably one without cause nor convincing purpose.