21 April 2008

you know who turned him in? his fucking girlfriend

Thankfully, this will have nothing at all to do with complaining, yet again, about my miserable romantic track record (except for this part. Which is now over), but has everything to do with my fairly successful musical track record (not with regards to performance, but in the listening department). Specifically, and without the bullshit prefacing that typically comes in my writing, the Dillinger Escape Plan show from last Wednesday, and my reactions to the same.

I wrote my piece about the new album (Ire Works) in my Top 5 list for music in 2007, so I will endavour to avoid rehashing opinion that has already been penned. Suffice to say, I was jazzed at the prospect of seeing a band I've recently come to appreciate in a venue I've also recently come to appreciate (the Marquis... not even remotely as awesome as the location it replaced on the concert calendar - the late, lamented Rock Island - but a nice happy medium between a dive-y place and somewhere that a teenager's mother wouldn't get too nervous dropping him off at).

I've seen the performance of "Black Bubblegum" they did on Late Night a few more times than I'd care to admit,
I've watched the live snippets that came on the Miss Machine bonus DVD often enough, and I've been in awe of Greg's attempt to run over the crowd at Virgin Megastore for a while now. One of their bass players apparently used to refer to the band as the Dillinger Insurance Plan; the only band I know of where one of the guitar players gets nerve damage in his hand and has to quit (for the time being) and where the other one breaks his foot during the shoot for a video, necessitating the postponing of their nationwide tour for what felt like several months. Though I had yet to see Dillinger live, I knew what I was getting myself into.

I've also been to my fair share of shows at the Marquis (Pelican, Planes, ISIS), but I'd never been to one with a gate set up in the space between the bar area and the floor in front of the stage. I knew the rumors were true going in, but now I was committed, and I couldn't back out even if my cold feet froze me to the core.

No real worries, at least not for a while; the first opener was, as somebody put it, the "hometown heroes," Fear Before the March of Flames. Frankly, I found myself struggling to care. I probably should've, but there just wasn't anything about their music I found gripping. Particularly when I knew what was waiting in the wings.

The next act, I'm sad to say, I cannot recall their name. I remember they were from California, and that I enjoyed them a lot more than Fear. It was kind of standard, ISIS-esque metal/[something]core, but they played their music well, and with conviction. They were kind of like a B-movie band, but a good B-movie. I wish I could remember their name.

Then, Dillinger, after a wait that felt excruciatingly long. I can honestly say that I don't believe I've ever been through an experience that matches that of seeing The Dillinger Escape Plan perform live. The crowd basically rioted (but in a positive way... the thing I still hate about mosh pits is the one random asshole who doesn't want to enjoy himself, but just punch other people in the face and wreak as much havoc as he can. I didn't see much of those guys that night. Maybe it was because it was so chaotic, or because there wasn't one of those guys in the crowd, but it didn't look like anyone was genuinely trying to cause harm to anyone else. And here I was, worried I would see my first broken face at a show) from the second they began to play.

The band, however, made up for that by trying to assault the audience as thoroughly as they could. I haven't seen such a frenetic strobe light setup, well, ever, and I hope to god that anyone who might have been epileptic managed to escape the space before seizing, though it would've been tough to tell from the spasming throng screaming along to every lyric that escaped vocalist Greg Puciato's lips.

It's worth noting the abundance of crowd surfing at this show; I wasn't exactly expecting it. No less than three audience members wound up on stage, screaming and gyrating along with the band. It wasn't long before they (the band) took a vote and forbade anyone not actually playing from spending any more than two minutes onstage. To our credit, no one from the audience broke that rule the rest of the night (I timed people; I know).

As something of a latecomer to DEP, I can't compare this incarnation of the band to any other, but I can say that I am absolutely blown away by the fact that everyone with the exception of Puciato could go into what amounted to a controlled seizure and still play, well, what was on the album (as near as I could tell, anyway... it's not like most of this hardcore metal/mathcore/whatever genre they're credited with creating this week doesn't sound like so much noise to the... uninitiated, I suppose).

And I have to credit them with covering the entire span of the band's existence in one night: they played a little bit of everything, from "The Mullet Burden" off the Under the Running Boards EP to most of Ire Works, and "When Good Dogs Do Bad Things" from the band's transitional Irony is a Dead Scene, the EP they did with Mike Patton (!!) on lead vocals (I know I'm restating myself here, but this is just as much to remind me about the significance of the show and the album as it is to write a reaction for an audience).

Puciato is one scary motherfucker; the guy has biceps that are probably bigger than my head. It's easier to take a song like "Milk Lizard" seriously when the guy screaming the words looks as though he could take on every single member of FBTMOF and the other opening band without even breaking a sweat. He climbed across the ceiling during the closing number of the set: "Sunshine the Werewolf," from Miss Machine.

I want to keep jabbering on about this experience, but so much of it was about the immediacy of live music, of surrounding yourself with people as passionate, if not more so, about the music and the performance as you are, that trying to consider it after the fact feels like a task that I couldn't ever accomplish to my satisfaction.


It's worth posting a link to the photographs the good people from Westword took of the show; this is probably another one of those situations where pictures work a bit better than words:

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