[ATTENDED: May 5, 2016] The Dillinger Escape Plan
I bought The Dillinger Escape Plan’s first album way back in 1999. It is an abrasive, unpleasant, noisy, harsh record. The band is known for playing “mathcore” which means their songs have lots of stops and starts and weird rhythms. They are also really fast and the chords are more like screeches than actual guitar chords.
I didn’t listen to that album very much and I pretty much forgot about the band, but I saw their name pop up here and there. And now, here they were opening for Mastodon.
I didn’t know that they had been making records for all this time–with many, many line up changes, including a new singer since that first album. As I looked through their discography, I found out that Mike Patton, singer for Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and a dozen other even weirder bands, sang for them on an EP.
And then their new (and current singer) Greg Puciato took over. On the songs that I’ve listened to from their later albums, Puciato sings in many styles. There’s a lot of screaming, but there’s also some crooning and vocals that sound an awful lot like Patton’s (no mean feat).
Reviews said their newer albums were more melodic, so I was interested to hear what they’d do.
I should have realized as soon as the roadie played a guitar chord that this set was going to be LOUD. I forgot my ear plugs and should have bought a pair right then. But then the lights went down and the crowd parted making a 20 x 30 oval for the mosh pit. Yipes.
Well, that didn’t fill in all that much, but the band was like nothing I have seen before. They were LOUD. And they were angry. The music was as staccato and abrasive as anything I’ve ever heard and Puciato was screaming like a crazy person.
The amazing thing about these songs is that they are rather complex with all kinds of time changes and really fast guitar solos amid verses and parts where the music just drops out (see this video for 15 seconds of chaos). But Puciato kind of screams over the whole thing–it often sounds like they may not exactly be listening to each other. And most of the subtleties from the album are just bowled over by the noise. It’s intense and overwhelming.
I enjoyed watching guitarist Ben Weinman (from Morris Plains, NJ, a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University) because his fingers were incredibly fast, but he was also completely hyper. He jumped off his amps, he tossed his guitar around. He was non stop action. At the end of the set I thought he was smashing his guitar but he was hitting cymbals with it–not sure if any of the equipment survived.
I was also really impressed by their bassist Liam Wilson, as he played some really low notes and managed a rumble that you could feel all the way at the back of the venue. But he also played really fast–not an easy thing to do on the bass.
Billy Rymer on drums was also fun to watch since he seemed to always be hitting something–often faster than humanly possible.
Other guitarist Kevin Antreassian was less crazy but kept up with the noise very well–I as on the other side of the stage so I didn’t see him much.
But that’s because all eyes were on Puciato. I read today that he is notorious for his stage antics. At one point he climbed up on the risers to the left of the stage (about ten feet high) and leaped down onto the stage. His poor mike stand got flung all over the place. And he screamed and screamed and screamed. He did sing more traditionally a few times–although nowhere as nicely as on the album.
About midway through the set I had to buy earplugs, so I missed a song or two. But when I got back, I saw the two highlights of the show. The first was when Weinman went crowd surfing while playing his guitar. At some point he stood up, fully straight, while the crowd held him up and he kept playing. You can’t exactly tell from that photo on the right, but he is about five people away from the stage–no idea how he was being held up. He then fell back into the crowd who surfed him back on stage (I’ve posted a video of this on Instagram).
Then as the show came to an end, Puciato climbed the amps on the right side of the stage over to the balcony. He scooted across the outside railing. (That’s him right in the center of the photo on the left. I love how some people didn’t even know he was up there). Again he was about twelve feet off the ground and then he dove (doing a flip to land on his back) into the crowd, who caught him and then surfed him to the stage again. I have never seen anything like it (no video of that, sadly).
I had genuinely no idea how many songs they played. There were so many stops and starts in the songs, that there could have been five short songs or one long song. Turns out that most of their songs are about 4 minutes long. So they wound up playing ten songs in their 45 minute set.
And some kind soul at Setlist has even posted their set. I listened to the tracks and could actually tell that, yes those were indeed the songs they were playing. So I’m retroactively even more impressed by the band.
I don’t anticipate ever seeing a spectacle like that again, and aside from wishing I had gotten my earplugs earlier, I really enjoyed watching them safely from the periphery of the crowd.
Hero of the Soviet Union
One of Us Is the Killer
Room Full of Eyes
When I Lost My Bet