The Dillinger Escape Plan @ Hellfest, Clisson, France, 20 June 2010
This is part 5 of Noise Road’s review of Hellfest. Click here for part 1.
The Dillinger Escape Plan are the best live band in the world.
A credible blog would have to qualify that statement with words like “best live band, in my opinion”, or “best live band that I’ve seen”, or “my favourite live band”… But I ain’t making any attempt to run a credible blog.
I’ve blown my load previously over Dillinger in this post…
Dillinger played late on the final day of Hellfest in Clisson, France. I had paced myself throughout the day to make sure that energy reserves were solid for Dillinger. It was a challenge to restrain myself, as about an hour earlier, Suffocation’s frontman, Frank Mullen, had worked the crowd into a frenzy… But the fact that I had a laptop in tow, prevented me from lurking too close to any punters letting loose at Suffocation.
Wait… you took a laptop to a 3-day camping metal festival? For reasons too boring to go into, I needed that laptop for my travels in France prior to Hellfest. So unfortunately I lugged my macbook around the festival for 3 days. I treated my previous laptop with the up most respect, and it died two months out of warranty. This laptop has now seen the barrage of the front rows of Dillinger in France and Converge in the UK. If it fails, at least this time I will have deserved it.
The best way to experience the chaos of Dillinger is in amongst it. There’s nothing like pushing towards frontman, Puciato, as he hurls the mic into the crowd, for the punters to participate in the cathartic call of Sunshine the Werewolf … Or having guitarist Jeff Tuttle launch himself into you, as the band’s designated crowd provaceuter… A laptop strapped to your body is no excuse to down size your Dillinger experience.
Dillinger opened with the spastic heaviness of Panasonic Youth and Fix Your Face, before changing up into the bar-meets-90′s-alt rock choruses of Milk Lizard…. phew, is my laptop going to make it? Is the pit behind me sporadically surging my 90 odd kilos forward, going to crush the brave, but petite, French girl between me and the front barrier? Will she be left with a laptop print in the middle of her back? I expect that the French don’t take too kindly to foreigners crushing their local women to death.
I saw the Dillinger dudes just a few months ago in Brussels. And their show has even improved since then. So what’s the difference?…
For a start, latest recruit, Billy Rymer now seems fully integrated into the band. The kid is a bundle of energy on that kit.
The latest album, Options Paralysis, hadn’t been released when I caught their show in Brussels. With each release, the Dillinger set becomes an increasingly potent, diverse and interesting show. The kick @rse rock n roll of Chinese Whispers was a highlight of the new material. But we also heard Room Full of Eyes and Farewell Mona Lisa. Farewell Mona Lisa is probably the best summary of what Dillinger do. Puciato displays a near Patton-like vocal versatility. Check it out…
The old songs also appeared reinvigorated. I have caught Dillinger several times, but it was only on the previous tour that I heard them play Mouth of Ghosts. It is the quietest and most different song of the set. In Brussels that alone provided a new dimension to the show. The performance of Mouth of Ghosts had been stepped up in the months since. It was now the highlight of the night. Like in Brussels, main man, Weinman, stepped out of his guitar strap to board the keys. But unlike that previous experience, he was now replaced on guitar by a tech, which allowed Tuttle to wail on lead guitar. Liam Wilson’s fusion bass lines also seemed far more prominent tonight.
Still not sold on Dillinger live? Obviously they are extremely talented musicians, that take a set from their spastic riffing base of 43% Burnt, through the pop of Black Bubblegum, and the jazz fusion of Mouth of Ghosts. But words may fail to convey the energy of the show.
Their set was held in the smallest tent of the festival, and I assume it was packed. I was never given enough room to turn to look backwards. All I know is that there was a mass of energy, continuously surging me in every direction. With the amount of movement and Dillinger’s preference for smokey, low lit stages, it’s a miracle that I obtained any vaguely useable photos for this post.
The band fed off the energy from the fans. As usual Puciato launched at the crowd for Sunshine the Werewolf. During the frenzy of the chugg-chugg passages of 43% Burnt, he found a novel solution to the eternal problem of “what does a vocalist do during an extended instrumental passage?”. His solution involved dangling from the light rigging.
Weinman continually throws himself and his guitar around the stage. However, in the last few years he has developed an interesting “peek-a-boo” move. At some point in the show, he turns his back to the crowd, the hands go up in the air, in a praise-the-lord style motion, while he conducts a full body shake. I’m not sure what its all about, but I laugh every time I see it.
Guitarist Tuttle is the new nominated Dillinger stuntman and towards the close of the set, he ventured deep in the crowd. All this energy is circular. The crowd give it to the band, the band return it and the room reaches a fever pitch of intensity.
I left the best set of Hellfest, sweaty and happy… Also my laptop still appears to work.