Concert Review: The Dillinger Escape Plan Play Bittersweet Farewell Show in New York City
One of extreme music’s most unlikely success stories came to a bittersweet end last night when The Dillinger Escape Plan played their final-ever show at Terminal 5 in Manhattan.
Over the course of a career-spanning set that lasted nearly two hours and blended classics (“43% Burnt,” “Panasonic Youth”) with melodic singles (“Milk Lizard,” “Farewell, Mona Lisa”) and more rarely-performed, deeper cuts (“Unretrofied” and “Sandbox Magician,” the latter complete with a cameo from original Dillinger vocalist Dimitri Minakakis), the band’s members — guitarist Ben Weinman, bassist Liam Wilson, vocalist Greg Puciato, drummer Billy Rymer, and guitarist Kevin Antreassian — displayed mind-boggling musicianship, climbed and leapt from balconies, abused their instruments, crowd surfed, and generally engaged in behavior which would potentially shave years from their lives. In other words, it was your typical Dillinger show.
Except, of course, that it wasn’t. DEP’s personnel are not generally known for coordinating their outfits, but for this show, they all wore black, as if attending their own funeral. Blinding, seizure-inducing strobe lights rendered the musicians first silhouettes, and then ghostly apparitions dancing behind your eyelids. Their crowds have never exactly been serene, but the floor of the venue exploded and writhed with a level of chaotic energy I’ve never seen before at this particular venue (where I’ve witnessed dozens of shows… including, come to think of it, other DEP performances). “Ain’t it the truth?” Puciato asked rhetorically after singing the final lines of “Dead as History” (“Time is always right behind us/ Like the lamb under the gun/ I’ll hold on to this forever/ That is never long enough”). And that was just one of several songs, along with cuts like “One of Us Is the Killer,” “Mouth of Ghosts,” and “Nothing to Forget” — that seemed to take on new meaning in light of the group’s impending dissolution. The fact that this was the band’s final show was never far from anyone’s mind, I’m sure.
That this go-for-broke performance was characteristic of the band and not simply inspired by their conclusion only serves to highlight why Dillinger were so goddamn great. This band never gave less than 200% percent, and, as demonstrated by the set’s breadth of material, seemed to succeed because, not in spite, of their unwillingness to compromise creatively. The Dillinger Escape Plan were authentic and committed in a way few metal or hardcore bands ever can be… and they were innovative to boot.
Joined by a string quartet, the band ended the night with the title track from their last album, 2016’s Dissociation. It was earnest, heartbreaking, and perfect, and those of us who were fortunate enough to be in attendance will surely cling to the memory… at least until the reunion.