The Dillinger Escape Plan
God Mother (12/27/17)
Code Orange (12/28-29/17) Daughters (12/28-29/17)
December 26th: The Day Before
As I write this, I am about 26 hours away from the beginning of the end. After six years being a major fan, I am going to be witnessing The Dillinger Escape Plan, one of my absolute favorite bands, begin the first of their final three concerts. The band promised each night would be full of celebration. On the first day, we’ll see Dillinger-approved mathcore act God Mother open the stage up for the mathcore legends to perform my all-time favorite EP, Irony is a Dead Scene, in full, with none other than Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle). Underrated legends Daughters and the newly-Grammy nominated Code Orange open the last two days.
On top of that, Dillinger promised different setlists each night. I assume that fan-favorites like “Farewell, Mona Lisa,” “Milk Lizard,” and “43% Burnt” will be on every day, but what about deeper cuts? Will we hear “Widower” one more time? Maybe some more off of Calculating Infinity, like “Variations on a Cocktail Dress,” or even some of their weirder instrumental tracks? They have so much to choose from. Whatever happens, I cannot begin to explain how excited I am about these shows, and at the same time, how sad I am to acknowledge the end of The Dillinger Escape Plan.
I first heard of them in 2010, around the release of Option Paralysis, but other than “Farewell, Mona Lisa” and “Milk Lizard,” I didn’t really listen to them until I saw them open for Deftones on the 2011 Diamond Eyes tour. I had never seen a band members play that passionately in a live setting before that night, and soon enough, I found myself listening to them to an obsessive level. I fell in love, and had the chance to see them four times in New York City and once in Connecticut before these final shows were announced. The Dillinger Escape Plan never released something I outright hated. Even their demo, which I am not quite a fan of, shows traces of the potential they unlocked with Under the Running Board a year later, and then their revolutionary debut, Calculating Infinity. The group has only put out amazing material since then. Their last record, Dissociation, is a perfect last bow in the studio. Now, here we are. In a little more than a day, the end.
December 27th: The First Day
The last of the shows to be announced, but arguably the most important, was this one: other than being their first and only date with God Mother, it was also the night Mike Patton would be in the building to perform Irony is a Dead Scene. This show was bound to be a party. Cesar, Brian, and I got to the venue a little before doors, but it took a while to actually get into the building (damn you, Terminal 5). At 8:00 p.m., God Mother took the stage with no introduction: they went straight into the action, pumping out half an hour of aggressive grindcore. Their vocalist, Sebastian, was literally all over the venue. One moment, he’d be on stage screaming his heart out; the next, he was somewhere across the venue, still screaming. Then he was in a corner. Then he was standing on a chair. Sebastian, it’s safe to say, gets around. There’s a reason Dillinger puts so much spotlight on these guys. I am going to be seeing them again on Saturday at Saint Vitus Bar with Gatherers and Great Grief, and I am stoked to see their act in a small area like that after killing it in a venue as huge as Terminal 5.
About a half hour after they finished, Mike Patton took the stage to wild applause. The mere twenty minutes they played was nothing short of batshit. Instead of focusing on physical ability like Dillinger does on a normal day, the set was all about technical ability. I was very curious to see Mike Patton pull off his Irony vocals, because they sound frankly impossible; but sure enough, Patton nailed it. The “here kitty kitty” part in “When Good Dogs Do Bad Things” left me in complete shock: it was a flawless performance, and his range went above and beyond any expectations I had. At the end, we heard a surprie cover of Faith No More’s “Malpractice” to close off that portion of the set. For just twenty minutes, it was bliss.
Ten minutes of silence, and then the Dillinger Escape Plan proper stepped out. Greg, wearing a Santa hat, announced “Panasonic Youth” and jumped straight into the crowd. They went right into “Destro’s Secret,” a song I never expected to hear, and then into another: “Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants,” which I was sure I had heard for the last time at the 2015 Irving Plaza show, their “retirement” for several Miss Machine songs. Next was Dissociation’s “Surrogate,” which is always great to hear live for it’s proggy, dissonant richness, followed by “Sugar-Coated Sour,” which really got Terminal 5’s floor moving. After that, a dream came true: I had been hoping to hear at least one of the instrumental tracks off of Calculating Infinity, and we fucking got it as they band launched into “Weekend Sex Change”! It bled beautifully into One of Us is the Killer’s “Hero of the Soviet Union,” and then one of the night’s biggest surprises: Ire Works’ “Dead as History.”
I don’t even know where to begin. I never expected it. The audience was clearly even more stoked about this as I was, because even sweaty and exhausted, they were able to singing the closing lines of the song in perfect, spine-tingling harmony. Being there for that moment is an experience I will never take for granted.
“Fix Your Face” followed, and then, now ten songs in, we finally got Option Paralysis’ iconic “Farewell, Mona Lisa.” Dyami Bryant (Locked in a Vacancy) ripped it up halfway through the song. They played “When I Lost My Bet,” which I thought was a very odd way to make way for the encore, but it was great regardless.
The band left the stage for a few minutes, during which time Dimitri Minakakis, Dillinger’s original vocalist, came out to shouts and applause. He made it clear he wasn’t performing that night and talked a bit about the band he helped start; then he made a quick, friendly jab at Ben Weinman, and let the band retake the stage for an unhinged performance of “Limerent Death,” and then close the night off with the iconic “Sunshine the Werewolf.” Greg, of course, monkeyed up the balcony of Terminal 5 and did his signature crowd jump for “Sunshine,” but I must make note of the guy who thought it’d be a good idea to jump off a balcony earlier in the song, into a crowd that was not ready or willing to catch him, and ended up serious injuring someone. Please, for future reference, leave that to the professionals.
That said, it was an incredible first night. It was jarring to attend a Dillinger show and not hear “Milk Lizard” or “43% Burnt,” but the way the band gave their all the entire night made up for it. I am very happy that this was only the beginning.
December 28th: The Second Day
I showed up a little earlier the second night to get a better place on the balcony. I froze my ass off, but getting the spot was worth it in the end to finally see Daughters. I was also hoping to get a kick out of Code Orange. Daughters took the stage at 8:00 p.m. and their performance was everything I could have hoped for from them. Alexis Marshalls stage performance and vocal style are best described as “drunk wedding singer”: he just has such a good time on stage dancing, dry-humping the floor, and sucking on his hand that it’s easy to miss how the rest of the band manages to stay focused and play. The set was pulled mainly from Hell Songs and their incredible self-titled album, which was great. The only issue I had with their set was the fact that the venue soundperson treated them as guinea pigs: the drums were a bit too loud and the guitars were all over the place in terms of sound quality. Otherwise, it was great to catch them live at last.
Code Orange are a few moments away from becoming modern hardcore legends. They’re on top of the game right now, but do not like their music under “Code Orange” at all. I feel they went from being a very solid band to an incredibly corny one in a matter of an LP and a name change. Once I saw vocalist/drummer Jami Morgan and Dominic landolina come out in ski-masks, I knew we were in for something unique, which is to say that I couldn't take their 35-minute set seriously in the slightest. It was every corny thing that could happen at a hardcore show all at once. Despite the cringeworthy Pantera shirt, Reba Meyers was the only one that sounded good, and her stage presence was not nearly as overblown as her bandmates’. I love an energetic show, but Code Orange go out of their way to come off like the coolest, most macho motherfuckers in the world despite looking like a bunch of emo-kids who stumbled into fame. The ridiculous amount of crowdkilling during their set didn’t help. All in all, despite their current popularity, the band is a joke.
Now, the reason we were all there.
The Dillinger Escape Plan’s second to last set ever opened with One of Us is the Killer’s “Prancer.” Greg introducing it as “the last time” the group would ever play the song. This was a blow, and it made me realize just how close we were to the end. They would be breaking up the very next day. The set began just as fiery as the night before and “Milk Lizard” turned the heat up a little more. The room erupted, singing the lyrics back in perfect unison. Next up was “Jim Fear,” yet another track I never thought I would hear live, and it was just as intense as you could imagine. They played “Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants” again, which I was very happy to hear a second time since it’s “retirement.” In the middle of the performance, a girl managed to get onstage and duet with Greg for just a moment.
They then played Option Paralysis’ “Room Full of Eyes,” which is pure aggression live, and then a string of Calculating Infinity tracks: “Sugar Coated Sour,” a welcome repeat of “Weekend Sex Change,” and“The Running Board,” yet another I-would-never-in-a-million-years-expect-this-one surprise. The set leaped forward in time to Dissociation’s “Symptoms of Terminal Illness,” which gave us a bit of breathing room before the unbridled fun of Ire Works’ “Black Bubblegum,” “One of Us is the Killer,” and then fucking “Crossburner.” I hadn’t heard that song since 2013’s Summer Slaughter, and hearing my favorite track on One of Us in the Killer live one last time was truly rejuvenating. This went right into Option Paralysis’ “Good Neighbor,” a fan favorite, followed by “Calculating Infinity.”
At this point, against all odds, Dimitri Minakakis came out and performed the entirety of Under the Running Board with his old band. Holy. Fucking. Shit. If there was one thing that could have pushed things from 100 to 1,000, this was it. That’s all I can say about that. From that day forward, I and everyone at Terminal 5 can say we’ve seen the Dillinger Escape Plan perform with every vocalist. We saw “Abe the Cop” live. Come the fuck on now.
The encore, like the night before, began with “Limerent Death,” but this time Greg walked through the crowd, screaming in people’s faces. They closed with “43% Burnt” with both Greg and Dimitri doing vocals. I don’t know what I did to deserve to witness something like that. don’t know what to expect tomorrow.
December 29th: The Final Day
This is it.
Daughters and Code Orange were more or less the same to me. I won’t repeat myself.
The set opened with the first song on their 1997 self-titled demo, the instrumental “Proceed with Caution.” Just when I thought they were out of surprises, they pull that relic out and lead straight into “Limerent Death.” This became “Panasonic Youth,” a song even Dillinger didn’t know they were going to play the final night, and then we got all groovy to “Milk Lizard” for the last time. There was a short pause, and then, out of nowhere, Miss Machine’s “Baby’s First Coffin,” my absolute favorite Dillinger song. I heard it live once in 2015, but being able to witness it one more time was glorious. “Dead as History” followed once more, and then, out of the blue, “Happiness is a Smile.” I am not as big a fan of this one as some, but it was special that night, at the end of it all, and a deep cut for the fans. It morphed into “One of Us is the Killer,” and in turn into Dissociation’s “Nothing to Forget,” which was when it really hit me that the end was almost here.
“Low Feels Blvd,” from the same album, was next, and then a poignant rendition of Ire Works’ “Mouth of Ghosts,” which I had heard twice on the Dissociation tour, but never like that night. I could say the same for every song, really, whether or not the band played it more than one night. The finality of it all, the fact that every song was essentially a goodbye, made them new again for the last time. This went into Miss Machine’s “Unretrofied.” Do I need to repeat myself? I never thought I’d hear this again. Ever. I went wild for those first notes. Dimitri joined the band for “Sandbox Magician” one more time. We hard “When I Lost My Bet” one more time, and then “Sunshine the Werewolf,” during which my dear friend Finnbogi Örn Einarsson (vocalist of Great Grief) was able to get the mic. It was easily my favorite of all the guest performances. I can now say I am friends with someone who performed with Dillinger, even for just a moment.
The first encore began with “Farewell, Mona Lisa,” one last time, during which I made a mistake: I tried to crowd surf. This was a TERRIBLE decision. I ended up getting stuck in the front, where people were just trying to avoid getting trampled and everyone apparently had the same idea to crowd surf at the same time it occurred to me. As I made my escape up the balcony, Dillinger kicked into “43% Burnt.”
And then, “Dissociation.”
Seven)Suns, a small string orchestra, joined the band on stage amid the lights and fog. In an emotional turn of events, ex-bassist Adam Doll could be seen on stage as well to handle the electronics on the track. That entire room seem to come to a standstill as the song filled the room, and I’m not sure anyone moved for the next six minutes. It was that time at last. I let it all out as soon as I heard those opening notes, and as my favorite band broke up before my eyes.
It was over.
The Dillinger Escape Plan is over.
December 30th: The Hours After
The Dillinger Escape Plan is no longer active. I’m very sad about the entire thing, but I’ve come to grips and found that I am content. In three days, I watched them perform 43 different songs (I don’t think that’s unintentional) spanning their discography, reaching as far back as their demo to perform the first song they ever recorded, and the last. I’m going to miss them like hell, but we couldn’t have asked for more. We got twenty years of some of the best music and live performances ever. I would not be where I am without them, and I’m sure most of you feel the same way. I’m lucky to be able to say that I lived at the same time as this band.
The Dillinger Escape Plan: 1997-Forever
- Alex Brown
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