I CANNOT BELIEVE IT TOOK ME THIS LONG TO SEE THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN LIVE
HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT. Those were the only three words I could manage to conjure immediately following the insanity that was last night’s Dillinger Escape Plan show at the Blender Theatre here in NYC. And rarely has the word “show” so readily applied to a concert. DEP live inhabit a plane somewhere between the brutal, take-no-prisoners all-out-war of Henry Rollins-era Black Flag and the pyro-laden theatricality of Kiss in their prime. Put more simply: YOU HAVE TO GO SEE THIS BAND LIVE.
I don’t have that much to say about show openers Genghis Tron and A Life Once Lost; my esteemed colleague Mr. Kip Wingerschmidt will have more to say about ALOL sometime this week, and as much as I love Genghis’ music on record, I had lukewarm feelings about them live. Don’t get me wrong – the music sounds fucking great, and I was especially impressed with guitarist Hamilton Jordan, whose playing is, in a word, sick – but there’s just not enough on-stage energy. Maybe the band would better in a more intimate setting than this particular venue; maybe vocalist Mookie Singerman needs not to so tied to his own synths/sampler/whatever and let Michael Sochynsky handle all of that shit; maybe the band just needs a real drummer, as opposed to a drum machine. In any case, they gave a very good performance when I was expecting one that was absolutely mind-blowing.
Lucky for me, then, that Dillinger blew the fucking roof off the place. The band’s flair for the dramatic – new drummer Gil Sharone’s kit which lights up from the inside, front man Greg Puciato spitting fire over the crowd, Gene Simmons-style, etc. – certainly didn’t hurt, but that the band sounds so fucking tight is what really sold them.
And then there’s the fact that the members of DEP’s stage performances are spastic as their music. This has to be one of the most, for lack of a better word, athletic bands on the planet, each member constantly leaping and flopping around like someone going through a seizure – and yet they never, ever seem to fuck up. I really don’t know how they manage to play their instruments while seemingly impersonating fish out of water, but it’s an amazing sight to behold.
The star of the show, of course, is Puciato. Whether he was literally climbing the walls and swinging from the curtains or tossing the mike to a fan in the front row to kick off “When Good Dogs Do Bad Things,” the guy just has the crowd eating out the palm of his of hand from start to finish (again, check out that fire breathing). By the time he and ALOL singer Bob Meadows had joined him for a crowd surfing jaunt during the band’s finale, I was pretty much ready to have the dude’s children.
If I had any complaints about the gig, then, it might – and I stress the word “might” – be that, at least at this juncture, the band still seems to be shying away from playing some of their more melodious material. With the exception of “Milk Lizard” and “Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants” – songs which still feature their fair share of furious screaming explosions of schizo experimentalism – the band seemed to stick to their mathcore roots, whether is was playing tracks from Calculating Infinity (“Sugar Coated Sour,” 43% Burnt”), Miss Machine (“Panasonic Youth,” “Sunshine the Werewolf”) or even this year’s Ire Works (“Lurch,” “Party Smasher”). But it’s a minor complaint, because, well, these dudes just fucking murdered it: lest anyone doubt me about the quality of this show, note that when they played “Fix Your Face,” original DEP vocalist Dmitri Minakakis joined them on stage. And yes, it fucking ruled.
Like I said: no matter what, you need to go see DEP ASAP. Seriously.
Dillinger Escape Plan play The Middle East in Cambridge, Mass tomorrow night with A Life Once Lost and Genghis Tron as support. For a complete list of upcoming Dillinger Escape Plan tour dates, check out their MySpace page.