On Friday, The Dillinger Escape Plan released the final installment of their over twenty year career, Dissociation. This LP truly serves as a reminder of who these guys are and why they are as important to avant-garde music as they have been, with pure technicality mixed in with some truly emotional moments. Since its release, Dissociation has been on constant play on my iPod. I love the LP and the band so much, I decided to go to their show the following day incredibly early, and by that, I mean some four and a half hours in advance. When the magic began… oh man, I am still feeling every bit of that show in my body. Of course, before Dillinger took the stage and unleashed their magic, there were three opening acts.
First up was the regional opener for the first number of dates on the tour, Bent Knee. These guys are really hard to describe, but their main genre is certainly some sort of art rock. There are tons of other genres thrown into the mix, including progressive and even jazz. Their music is really weird, and their performance was pretty kooky also. They didn’t do anything too insane live (especially for what was going to come in a few hours), but they were certainly having a good time on stage, so I was entertained pretty much through their entire set. They played a little longer than I expected, but towards the end, their set got crazier and crazier, so I really find no reason to complain at all. It’s really cool that Dillinger manages to score bands like Bent Knee on their bills, because while they aren’t exactly similar sound-wise, they certainly share the same ideas of what they want out of music, which I can completely appreciate.
Up next was Cult Leader, an incredibly heavy-duty metalcore band that came to be from the ashes of Gaza, who are by far one of my favorites in underground extreme music. I have seen the group before, so I knew what to expect, but was still able to love the hell out of their performance. They’re one of those bands that in a live setting is pretty much literally a wall of noise. You definitely need some earplugs to make sure you don’t go deaf. The vocals were pretty silent through the performance, which is apparently what they were going for, as vocalist Anthony Lucero asked the sound engineer to put down the vocals three times during the performance. This really didn’t take away too much from them, though, as their presence was nothing short of intense. They crushed through some 25 minutes before ending their set, and through the whole thing I found myself getting super into the performance.
Next up was O’brother. The easiest way to describe this band is a more atmospheric, more math-rock Thrice. While surely good, their set was certainly the one I enjoyed the least. This is mainly because the group was nowhere near as exciting as the previous two, as they were pretty still throughout the set. They had some pretty cool strobe lights going on, but overall I was more so just watching them and waiting for Dillinger to take the stage. I don’t want to take anything away from them musically though, as they are really good in that aspect. Honestly, they aren’t much of my thing, but I can appreciate what they do and dig some of it. If you like them, you should definitely see them live.
Next up, of course, was the band everyone in that room was waiting for. To summarize my feelings, I was seeing one of my absolute favorite bands for potentially the final time in my state. I was also seeing them without a barricade. Now, typically, Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom has one. However, for this show, I guess the band was able to get away without a barricade, which left me with a feeling somewhere between pure excitement and fear. This show could either be the greatest thing I ever lived through, or the worst. Nevertheless, the excitement got the best of me as the lights dimmed and the magic began.
They opened their set with the opener on Dissociation, “Limerent Death.” From the get-go, my friends and myself were thrust against the stage. However, it was nowhere near as bad as other shows I’ve been to. The group was doing everything they typically do live. Vocalist Greg Puciato jumped into the crowd. Guitarist Ben Weinman was jumping off cabinets. A fun time was surely ahead for the rest of the evening. After finishing “Limerent Death,” the group went directly into the intro to 2004’s Miss Machine, “Panasonic Youth,” a true staple of their set. This would lead into many other great tracks from the group’s pass discography, including “Black Bubblegum” and “Hero of the Soviet Union,” as well as brand new songs such as “Symptoms of Terminal Illness” and “Surrogate.” One of the more emotional moments of the night came when they played the second to last track off Dissociation, “Nothing to Forget,” which has surely some of the most depressing lyrics from the group. Despite these moments, the group was absolutely insane.
It is expected of Greg and Ben to be batshit crazy, but even their other guitarist, Kevin Antreassian, was getting really into it. Being on his side of the stage, he would come up to me a lot and allow me to touch his guitar and all that good shit. He would even jump into the crowd, which is a huge surprise considering that not even a year ago he was the one member who remained mostly stationary. I got to catch a guitar pick from him also, so fuck yeah. Before their encore, the group closed off with the intro to 2013’s One of Us is the Killer, “Prancer,” whics remains one of their most insane songs live. This part of the set ended with Greg going on the balcony of Webster Hall and jumping all the way down. Now, I know Greg is known for stuff like this typically, but keep in mind that the distance between Webster Hall’s balcony and floor is a lot bigger than most venues. Seeing him fall some 70 or so feet and getting caught was absolute eye-candy, and then their set ended… that is, until the encore.
They opened their encore with the outro track to 2007’s Ire Works, “Mouth of Ghosts.” This is a song I am certain they haven’t played since they toured for Ire Works, so hearing it live was a truly special gift. Nothing too insane happened during this song, but that was expected, considering the song is a slower one. However, nobody could prepare what would come next when they played “Sunshine the Werewolf.” Just a reminder: there was no barricade. So, during the break of the song, something like a hundred people, including myself and three of my friends, got on stage and just started partying with the band. This would continue through the finale of their set, the infamous “43% Burnt.” The show seriously went from one hundred to a million within a few moments, with people moshing and crowd-surfing over people on stage, and the members just jumping on top of everyone and having a blast. This is truly my favorite memory from a concert, period.
In brief...what is there really left to say? This was, without any question, the best fucking show I’ve ever been to. The Dillinger Escape Plan (with no barricade) can seriously not be topped in any circumstance. Every moment of this show was filled with pain, sometimes excruciating pain. However, no matter the pain, I truly had the time of my life screaming every song off with all my friends, and with that fucking climatic moment of the show, I could really not ask for more. If The Dillinger Escape Plan are playing your state and you do not see them, you are honestly fucking up immensely. I, for one, will also be seeing them on their final date on this tour at the Webster Theater in Connecticut. However, I will let my CT boys write a review for that one.
Long fucking live The Dillinger Escape Plan.
Photo: Matt Lyons
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