Archive for The Dillinger Escape Plan

Mastodon/Dillinger Escape Plan @ Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow, UK – 8th February 2012

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , , on February 19, 2012 by Noise Road


Barrowlands Market is where you buy your sh!t back on a Sunday, after your gaff has been broken into during the week.  Barrowlands Ballroom sits above the stolen goods hotspot.  Located in the east of the Glasgow city centre, the trendy bars and restaurants of Merchant City lay to the west, the extensive parklands of Glasgow Green to the south and to the east we have junkie-inhabited council estates.

Barrowlands Ballroom is a sight from the outside.  Neon signage indicates that you may be in for a night of roller disco rather than sweaty metal.  On the inside it looks like, well, a ballroom.

Noise Road tried to push through the big crowd towards the end of Red Fang’s opening set.  Unable to penetrate past the side bar, we invested in a couple cans of £2.50 Carlsbergs and enjoyed the last 3 fuzzy tracks.

At the crowd exodus for a drink, for a smoke, for a t-shirt, for a sh!t, for whatever…  NR pushed forward for Dillinger’s set.

Flick through the Noise Road previous posts and you’ll find nothing documented more than a Dillinger show.  I prefer Dillinger’s manic energy to be bouncing of the walls of a tiny venue – but in 2012, you are never going to catch a Mastodon/Dillinger bill in anything smaller than a theatre.  It’s great that Dillinger can play to a sympathetic crowd this size.  It’s amazing that previously underground behemoths, Mastodon, are now just behemoths.  There is still hope for the world.

Dillinger

I first caught Dillinger on the Miss Machine tour of Australia.  In Fowler’s, you were unable to escape the reach of Weinman and Puciato as they entered the floor and physically demanded that you engage.  They are never going to be able to physically threaten that casual listener chilling at the bar tonight.

Without a record to pimp, and with a shorter opening slot and potential new fans to win over, Dillinger delivered somewhat of a best-of set.  The classic heavy tracks bookended the night – with the traditional opener Panasonic Youth and traditional closers, Sunshine the Werewolf and 43% Burnt.  In between there was plenty of sing-along numbers with Black Bubblegum, Milk Lizard, Chinese Whispers and Gold Teeth on a Bum.

Standing on the outside of the violence, I grooved and I sang along.  Outside the mosh, I also noticed the nuances of the set.  A Room Full of Eyes demonstrates how Dillinger can convey energy and even catchiness from something quite odd in riff and structure.

For a band that throws themselves around and often forsakes notes or words for crowd interaction, Dillinger are tight.  When one or two members are ad-libbing the remainder of the band lock-in.  Drummer Rymer and bassist Wilson hold tight all night.  Tuttle locks in the riff while Weinman misses the odd note on top of the crowd.  Tuttle and Weinman sing the melodic hook while the Puciato rasp is lost is somewhere on the floor.

At one point, Puciato took a running leap into the crowd, hitting the punters feet first in a still upright position.  The energy that Dillinger deliver in is undeniable.  I doubt anyone leaves without a strong opinion either way on them.

The Hunter

A cheeky couple of pints between sets and we shuffled back into the ballroom just before Mastodon stepped on stage.

You can get a distorted view of the world reading blogs.  On the internet it seems to be a case of when you got off the Mastodon train.  There are many scathing sell-out reviews for Mastodon’s latest, The Hunter.  Others left Mastodon on Crack the Skye, accusing the band of pretentiousness.  Some even left on Blood Mountain.  Blood Mountain!

The internet is not the real world.  The internet would lead you to believe that these kids are only here for the more melodic or less heavy works from The Hunter and Crack the Skye – but at the close of the set, the crowd roared along the old crusher, Blood and Thunder, louder than any other track of the night.  Split your lungs with blood and thunder, When you see the white whale!

To be honest, I was pretty unsure about Mastodon’s latest, The Hunter, when I first picked it up.  Curl of the Burl is instantly catchy stoner rock that opens with the line “I killed a man cos he killed my goat”  What’s not to like?  But the rest of the album initially left me flat.  If this was a sell out album, it was not a good sell out album.

It took 3 or 4 listens to catch the hooks and the intricacies of the simpler structured songs.  The thing that came to mind was a Metal Injection interview with Converge’s Kurt Ballou.  When asked about Converge’s new album, Ballou stated that he no longer wanted to make a best-of style album.  He cited the the Melvins‘ career.  Melvins did not try to re-make their major label classic, Houdini, over and over.  Through the Melvins’ 30 year career, they have maintained their integrity, creativity and still managed to make a living off music.

Melvins release a noise record and might follow that 3 months later with an almost radio friendly stoner rock record.  6 months later they might release a drone record.

What did we expect Mastodon to release?  Did we want them to bang out sludgy Remission clones for the remainder of their careers?  How limiting is that?  Do we really want them to release Crack the Skye epics every two years?  Isn’t that likely to get boring?   Mastodon felt a bunch of hooky riffs and they banged them out.  Its not their best album, but it is a good album.  A necessary album

Mastodon

I caught Mastodon in Manchester on their last UK cycle.  They played the epic Crack the Skye album in its entirety.  Perhaps fatigued by a year of playing 10-minute prog freak-outs, tonight featured only two tracks off that album.  In fact Mastodon played twice as many tracks tonight. A significant chunk of The Hunter was played but it did not dominate amongst large slabs of both the albums Leviathan and Blood Mountain.

A sense of fun replaced the weight of the previous tour.  The big rock of The Hunter tracks contrasted with the heavier noodle-fests of the older material.  The Hunter shows the growth in Mastodon’s vocals.  The band were brave enough to switch from straight out growling to melodic singing over the course of the last two albums.  In some circles they were criticised.  However tonight the vocals are strong from all members, and the simpler song structures rely on this new element.

Its fun to sing a long and rock out to the new material.  Its fun to bang your head to old riff fests of Colony of Birchmen and Aqua Dementia… and nothing brings a greater smile to my face than the robot mic of Circle of Cysquatch.

This is my second big theatre/stadium show in a couple of months and I’ve enjoyed the shared experience both times.

After roaring Blood and Thunder, Mastodon momentarily left the stage.  They returned with Red Fang and Dillinger in tow for a group sing of the sad tale of the swamp monster, the melancholic melody of the Creature Lives.

Big rock.  Big fun.

Dillinger @ The Garage, Glasgow, UK – 5 August 2011

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , on August 22, 2011 by Noise Road

Vocalist Puciato parted the Garage’s violent Red Sea, before hurling his body into the void.  Like Moses placing God’s chosen people on the seabed, the Dillinger vocalist sets up the mic stand for your favourite part of any Dillinger show.  Puciato disappears as the dam bursts back on him.  2,000 punters scream “Destroyer!… There’ll be another just like you!”

In the last 18 months Noise Road has caught the Dillinger experience in Belgium (read here), France (read here), Leeds (read here) and Southampton/London (read here).

So now that we are catching a DEP show in our new Weegie base, what original thoughts can we possibly have left in the tank?  Did we ever have any original thoughts?…

Halfway into the set my head hit the floor of the Garage.  It hit hard.  My head tried to assess the situation, while a member of the band passed above.

As the kids hauled me back to my feet, I considered that I might be getting a little too old for the pit.  Dillinger is the only show where I join the mosh.  As such it has been about half a decade since I’d found myself in a daze on the floor of a show.  Thankfully the kids looked after me.  The kids are alright.

When the first notes of Farewell Mona Lisa hit to start the night, I had half a beer still in hand.  In my binge drinking prime, I would have necked it and joined the pit.  However as my stay in Scotland grows I have traded in binge beer-drinking for slow-burn whisky-alcoholism.  As a result, I wore the half a glass of beer as the show began.

The kronenbourg in my shirt soon disappeared in my sweat and the sweat of my friends in the pit.  My soaked jeans stuck to me as I walked from the show.  If I was ever going to get away with p!ssing myself in public, tonight would have been the night.

A Dillinger pit is a mix of violent catharsis and good energies.  There is a sense of community with the band as guitarists, Weinman and Tuttle, and Puciato frequently launch into the crowd.  Weinman accuses a punter of fisting him mid-solo as he returns to the stage.  We try to avoid Tuttle’s erratic assaults and we yell into Puciato’s mic whenever we can.

But this isn’t just some sloppy sideshow.  The intricate music is tight despite the excursions into the crowd.

The community isn’t just with the band but with the other punter in the room.  Sometimes this good-will-to-all-men vibe goes a little too far.   At the merch desk, a kid kissed me on my forehead to demonstrate what he had done to Puciato in the pit.  I’m not that comfortable with my sexuality that I want strange, sweaty men kissing me on the head.  In fact, in general, I don’t like strangers touching me at all.  Everyone has little personality defects – that’s one of mine.  If I don’t know you, and you’re not Natalie Portman, I don’t want you hugging or kissing me.

More so than previous Dillinger shows, tonight has a party atmosphere.  For the first song of the encore, the chief musical force, Weinman, switches his guitar for Rymer’s kit.  A buzzy cover of Nirvana’s Territorial P!ssings followed.  Smiles abound on stage.  Weinman in particular seemed in good spirits.  He spent much time in the crowd and he seemed more at ease bantering with the punters.

In previous reviews we have praised Dillinger’s mix of intricacy and energy.  Tonight was more of a good time feel.  They missed more notes as they threw themselves into the crowd, but it made for a better experience.

Good Neighbor (I have to admit it hurts to spell Neighbour in the American way) closed a joyous, sweaty night.  Dillinger seem to be in high spirits, enjoying playing together.  I would not be surprised if their next long player had more than a tinge of a big fun rock record.

Damnation Festival @ Leeds, UK, 6 November 2010

Posted in Gigs, Travel with tags , , , , , , on November 15, 2010 by Noise Road

The Ocean, Alcest, Dillinger Escape Plan…

“Merry Christmas!”

I turned, after being slapped on the @rse, to be wished season greetings by six Santa Clauses (what’s the plural of Claus?).  Walking back to my digs for the evening, I stumbled upon a super-hero themed pub crawl.  Lots of ninja turtles, a wolverine, a disturbingly s3xy pair of female Mario Brothers and, well, a half dozen Santa Claus…  Yep, Leeds is a student town.

We don’t have student towns in Australia.  The majority of universities are in the capital cities, and most students attend uni in the same city that they grew up in.  Consequently Leeds’ vibe was an interesting one for me.

I trained up on Saturday morning after the Dillinger gig in Camden, on the Friday night.  As the University of Leeds hosted the Damnation Festival, I spent a large proportion of my unfortunately brief stay in the university district.  So my view of Leeds may be distorted – but the town appeared to possess a real buzz.

London

I woke, tired and a little disorientated, in a dorm room in Camden.  I quickly threw together my gear and tubed to King’s Cross Station.  Unfortunately I had forgotten to print out my train ticket.  That’s a problem when the sun is still to rise and no internet cafes are open.

London isn’t for everyone.  It’s a metropolis with a large tourist surface, and it is, at times, impersonal.  I love the place – it’s full of energy and there is always something happening.  Always….  Additionally the world is at your fingertips from London.  Its the gateway to Europe.

One of the few things that does bother me about London is its infamous lack of customer service.  It’s almost amusing how grumpy, slow and unhelpful people are behind counters.  Visit a London post office for one of the most inefficient uses of your time.  This morning found me attempting to get my ticket printed at the East Coast Trains “service” counter.

For half an hour, there was a chance of pulling the pin on the whole Leeds/Damnation mission.  But a few minutes before noon, I stepped out of Leeds central station.

Leeds

Leeds appears to have been spared the worst of the German Blitz of WWII.  Grand old buildings surround the large central shopping area.  The shopping centre and lively nightlife give the impression of a London in the north.

Pedestrians malls cover the centre of the city.  Who is buying all this guff?…  Well me, actually.  When thrusting clothes into my backpack before work the previous morn, I neglected to pack a pair of trousers.  A couple of hours walking in Leeds told me that shorts were not going to cut it.  Single digit temperatures ain’t shorts weather…  If you want to know where the cheapest jeans in Leeds are, hit me up.

My new jeans and I strolled up to the University of Leeds campus.  It is an old university with plenty of charm.  Modern buildings have sprung up amongst the old to bring all the facilities.  One of those facilities is an excellent venue.

And it is an excellent facility.  It’s not dissimilar to the 013 in Tilburg (see words and pics here).  There are multiple subterranean venues and bars within the complex, and plenty of space for the merch stands. There is even a supermarket in the building.  A tight student could buy cheap noodles and beer, and then head back underground to catch the next band.

Damnation Festival

There was a lot to like about the Damantion Festival vibe.  These smaller festivals have more character and charm than the bigger outdoor festivals.  The young, uni crowd were enthusiastic, energetic and most of all they were positive and unjaded.

Terrorizer Stage (Fukpig and Anaal Nathrakh)

The bigger of the two side stages, tonight labelled the Terrorizer stage, is probably a decent place to watch a band if you get there early enough.  The sound was good.  Unfortunately the makeshift sound desk blocked access to half of the steps to the floor.  And the other side of the steps was blocked by punters wishing a slightly raised view.  If you tried to move round the side, you found yourself peering through a slot cut into a structure hanging from the roof.  Odd.  But not without its charm.  It forced even the crowd side of stage to huddle together for a view.

I heard Fukpig and one track of Anaal Nathrakh here.  I’ll say heard, because I only caught glimpses of the stage.  I believe that Fukpig wore masks – executioner, gas masks etc.

I was not expecting much from a band named Fukpig.  I don’t even know why I chose to rock up to their set.  However the room was a mass of energy.  It was freezing outside, but the walls inside were sweating from the heat of a mass of black shirts and old school grind.  In the low lights the floor moved to early Napalm Death style blasts.

A few hours later in the same room I caught the end of the Anaal Nathrakh.  What I heard impressed.  They delivered a crisp attack from the stage that forced you back against the damp walls.

Rock Sound Stage (The Ocean and Alcest)

This should have been my third full Ocean set in under two weeks.  It was not.

I had tickets for the Dillinger/Ocean tour gigs in Southampton and London.  I also had a ticket for their appearance at the Damnation Festival.

Unfortunately the Ocean were handed the very opening set on tour, with a short timeslot.  When they started their set in Southampton, I was still in the queue outside.  A week later, the ridiculous start time found me still on a train up to London when they opened.

However no early starts, long lines or short sets could keep a man from the Ocean in Leeds.  I shuffled to the front of the Rock Sound stage as The Ocean loaded in.

The Rock Sound stage is tiny.  No barriers separated the floor from the stage.  The stage is only raised from the floor by about a foot

I caught the Ocean in May at Berlin’s Friction Fest (see words and pics here).  That performance was almost orchestral, with a string section and piano, amongst the additional instrumentation.  Apart from guitarist, Jonathan Nido, ripping up his designated corner, and drummer, Luc Hess’, jazzy spirit behind the kit, the performance was concert like.  The focus was to sync the many musicians playing complicated pieces.

The Ocean of November 2010 were in no way orchestral in demeanour.  Guitarist, Nido still ripped it up.  He constantly diced with a ventilation pipe above him.

The Louis Jucker who quietly played bass at the back of the Berlin stage has been replaced by a ferocious monster.  His hair has grown out into a massive fro and his stage presence has grown even more wild than his hair.  He dove into the crowd regularly, bass still attached.  When on stage, those of us in the front rows were often ducking that bass as he swung it at the crowd.

But the biggest change has been in frontman, Loic Rossetti.  In Berlin, Loic had the vocal chops more than covered.  But now he has presence.  There was no more awkward dancing during the long instrumental passages. He dragged the crowd into the performance.  He seized the front rows by the head.  He sang in our faces and shared the mic with those who had the words.

Between avoiding guitar heads, microphones and the bodies of the band members, you couldn’t help but be engaged.

The Ocean immediately put their versatility on display with the opener, Firmament.  Loic croons and roars in equal measure.  The band softly noodle, before exploding in off-kilter Meshuggah-y riffs.

After some emergency kick drum maintenance, the previous vocalist, Mike Pilat shared vocal duties with Loic.  The band ripped into the crowd favourite from the Pilat era, Orosirian.  Two vocalists on stage and a hundred in the crowd bellowed “For the Great!…  Blue Cold!…  Now Reigns!”

The epic closers, Origin of the Species and the Origin of God had the crowd moving and dodging the band members launching into the audience.  The two tracks share the same riff and theme.   Themes are big within an Ocean set.  Like post metal cousins, Isis and Cult of Luna, the Ocean use riffs that reappear and build.

Where the Ocean on record differs from the aforementioned post metallers, is in the depth of instrumentation and main man, Robin Staps’, confident use of orchestral sections.  In Berlin, we heard that intricacy performed live.  In Leeds, we saw a dirty rock and roll band work the room into a frenzy.

Alcest

The Alcest performance tapped into a completely different vibe.  There was no stage diving, or need to protect yourself from stray guitars.  Alcest engaged the same room in no way lesser way.

I am not familiar with Frenchmen, Alcest, beyond the last album, Ecailles de Lune.  The set drew almost exclusively from this album.  I believe they have a black metal history, and you can hear traces of it – but the music is far closer to post metal or even shoe gaze.

There is an absence of aggression in Alcest’s approach.  When the music builds to blast beats, they encompass you in a warm blanket, rather than forcing you away from the stage.  Check out the album opener to hear the slow build dynamic…

Vocals are delivered in a lullaby like manner.  You drift out of the drunken room in Leeds to Alcest’s dreamscape.  Even when the vocalists yell and scream, its not the tortured screams of Cult of Luna, or the lion roaring of Isis.  It’s a beckoning call.  Inviting and urgent.

Water is a theme in many a post metal band.  An hour previous we heard a band called the Ocean.  Water is also a reoccurring theme in Isis’ work…  but no band has sounded more like a body of water than Alcest.  I could picture walking alone along the coast at night.

The hour seemed to end so quickly.  A sure sign of an absorbing set.

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Jagermeister Stage

The small side stages definitely had their charms, but they were somewhat makeshift.  The main stage, however, is an excellent venue.  The three tiered space provided excellent sound and sight from nearly every spot.

Arriving a song or two late from the Alcest set, for the first time in my Dillinger viewing career I refrained from joining the pit.  I personally believe that you are not getting the full Dillinger experience unless you are caught up in the manic energy that Dillinger feed…  but I had seen Dillinger in Southampton and London in the previous 2 weeks, and I thought I might try the experience from a fresh angle.  See what its like when you can watch the stage without fear of a boot to the head or falling down.

I won’t go into too much detail, as I have previously posted on Dillinger gigs here and here.  But I may put up some words, in a separate post, on the Dillinger shows in Southampton and London.

Each night must seem like a fresh adventure park to Dillinger.  Tonight, they climbed the PA, the drum sets and side of stage.  Another venue, another obstacle course.

Like members of the Ocean and other bands, side of stage, I was having a ball.  Ocean fontman Loic even joined Puciato on stage to punch out the infamous “Destroyer!…”  section of Sunshine the Werewolf.

Dillinger finished characteristically manic with Sunshine the Werewolf, Panasonic Youth and 43% Burnt.

The undisputed kings of the live game closed a night of great performances, at a festival and town of unique energy and character.

The Dillinger Escape Plan @ Hellfest, Clisson, France, 20 June 2010

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , , on July 24, 2010 by Noise Road

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 @ Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium.

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 LisaFarewell 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.

Click here for the final part of Noise Road’s review of Hellfest.

Moody vs the Dillinger Escape Plan @ the Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium.

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , , , on February 9, 2010 by Noise Road

The hourglass is never right side up, and all the time we try to tear the script up;

Forgetting all the sour for the sweet, the paragraph has never seemed so empty

Or….

Moody vs the Dillinger Escape Plan at the Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium.

06/02/10

 

I’m standing centre of stage in a small club, sipping the local cheap beer, Stella Artois.  Hardcore dudes with tattoos on their skulls kiss each other hello on the cheek.  As the venue starts to fill, my ears are full of “excusez-moi” as the natives pass.  This is the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, Belgium.

With no opening act for the evening, the band boards the stage at around 20:30.  Guitarist, Jeff Tuttle has his angry face on.  Leading with his guitar, he jumps straight off the stage and pushes his way into the crowd, creating a one man circle pit.  The opening bars of Panasonic Youth blast out from the speakers and Tuttle, whilst wrestling notes out of his guitar, starts bouncing off punters on the floor.  Being equal parts dumb shyte and excited by the chaos, I didn’t shift position and found myself on the edge of the circle.  After bouncing off a few Belgian kiddies, he runs straight at me, jumping into me with his back, sending the last couple of sips of my Stella flying into the patrons behind me.  This is the Dillinger Escape Plan.

 

I flew into Brussels from Oslo a couple of nights previous.  I really should be back in the UK looking for a job after the cash haemorrhage that was Norway.  However Dillinger seem to be playing tiny venues on this short euro run, causing the UK gig to be sold out before I even knew about it.  My favourite live act is touring Europe.  Their Brussels date isn’t sold out yet.  I’ve never been to Brussels.  I didn’t really seem to have a choice in the matter.  The gods wanted me to go to Brussels.

 

After a couple of days of waffles bought from holes in the wall, waffles bought from Kombi vans, sipping Leffe and Trappist beers with the old timers in a cafe, and chowing down on baguettes avec jambon et fromage, I walked from my temporary digs in the seedy part of town to the venue just on the edge of the old town – the Ancienne Belgique, or as locals call it, the AB.

 

Back home, in North Adelaide, an AB is what you call a serving of yiros meat, chips and all kinds of sauces – It’s named such because it looks like… well, an ABortion.  Although there was a little street, dense with kebab shops, around the corner from the venue, sadly there was no yiros meat served at the Ancienne Belgique.  Despite this massive disappointment, the AB is still a pretty cool venue, with a good layout and sound – but it is definitely small for a band of Dillinger’s notoriety. 

This would be my fourth time seeing DEP. I first got into them when they recorded the EP, Irony is a Dead Scene, with Mike Patton.  The following full length, Miss Machine, with current vocalist, Greg Puciato, was my favourite release of that year.  I had that feeling of excitement when you discover something new and different.  I bought up the back catalogue and was eager to see this stuff played live when they announced a gig at Fowler’s.  However, I had heard nothing about their live show.

Unable to convince anyone to go with me, I went alone and was just going to nurse a beer towards the back of the crowd.  Except for Puciato, Dillinger boarded the stage and burst out a few notes before Puciato ran straight across the stage, bounced off the side wall and headed, sight unseen, into the crowd.  Then in the second verse of the same song, guitarist, Ben Weinman, jumped into the crowd.  The energy was too much to just stand there nursing a pint of sparkles.  I surged to the front to join in the fun.  It’s still my favourite gig to this day.

I’ve seen the band twice since.  They played a great set at an awful venue, the old Breakers in sAdelaide.  Tix were $70 – so the gig was far from sold out.  Also the venue is a former pool hall – so it is a massive space in width.  It kinda looked like they were playing to a handful of kids.  And a big percentage of the crowd was hardcore kids – so there was all that martial arts kicks and windmills guff near the front of the stage.  It was a great performance, but it was a shyte atmosphere on the floor.

They came back to Adelaide, last Feb as part of the Soundwave festival.  Puciato climbed the the light rigging.    He and Weinman headed into the crowd.  Later that day they both joined Nine Inch Nails on stage to perform Wish.  A fantastic day – but the real place to see Dillinger is at a sweaty club show.  They create a cauldron in a packed club.  So when I saw the size of the AB, I thought how could a sold out Dillinger gig in this place not be awesome.

 

My moshing days are about 5 years behind me.  Once your hairline is both greying and receding, it’s best to think about just enjoying the sound of the gig.  Head back towards the mixing desk, my friend.  But I know my form in Dillinger gigs.  I’ve got caught up at the front every time.

So when Tuttle was whirling around, I knew I had to be there.  How can you not move your body when the wall of spastic riffing that is Panasonic Youth kicks in?  Studies show that it’s physically impossible.  Panasonic Youth went straight into the chugg-chugg of 43% Burnt.   The crowd would usually be tearing it up at this point – but they weren’t.  The Belgian kiddies were pretty timid.  They were a room full of head nodders. 

I’m never going to judge anyone on how they enjoy their show.  It’s your $20.  Enjoy as you wish, man.  I mean I’m usually a head nodder.  And on a positive note this passiveness meant that I didn’t have to put up with any hardcore-windmill guff.  But with the energy emitted from the stage, Weinman swinging his guitar around his arm, Puciato assaulting the front rows, Tuttle on the floor, how could you not be moving around like Kermit after he announces the next act on the Muppet Show?…  Also the Muppets are now drug free.  They’ve cleaned up and found Jesus.  Click the image below that I took in neighbouring Bruges, Belgium.

 

Those first two tracks are Dillinger’s bread and butter – irregular time signatures, frequently changing up.  The next track was an example of  the diversity that DEP have shown on their last few releases – the gritty bar rock of Milk Lizard which is somewhere between a Jesus Lizard and a Faith No More track with the Dillinger stamp on it.  Shortly after they broke things up again with Black Bubblegum – a sugary pop rock track with NIN glitchy touches.

 

Mid set, for Mouth of Ghosts, main man Ben Weinman switched from guitar to keys and Puciato even produced a mic stand for the first time that I’ve ever seen.  They hadn’t played this cut at any of the shows I’ve been to and I think this track exemplifies why the Dillinger set is better than ever.  Previously Dillinger seemed a little reticent to play live some of their more mellow stuff. 

On the Miss Machine tour they were happy to play the songs where Puciato shows his melodic range and anthemic choruses.  And on the Ire Works cycle they were happy to play the sugary pop of Black Bubblegum and the gritty bar rock of Milk Lizard.  However longer, mellower pieces such as Mouth of Ghosts seemed to miss the cut live.  Perhaps they were scared that it might detract from the intensity of the live show.   I think it definitely adds a dynamic to the set.  A longer song like that also helps out the set length.  When I saw them at Breakers on the Ire Works cycle, they played 16 songs and struggled to crack an hour on stage.

 

Dillinger played two tracks off the soon to be released new album, Option Paralysis.  The tracks sound like what you would expect.  A further integration of the technical/irregular stuff into anthemic FNM style rock.  I’m onboard.

Towards the end of the set, they ramped the intensity back up with ultra aggressive tracks like Lurch, the Mullet Burden and Fix Your Face.  The band had finally broken through the crowds timidness.  When the signature closer, Sunshine the Werewolf, kicked in the crowd were thrusting forward to get their mic time.  Puciato shoves the mic into the front rows for the lines starting from “Destroyer!…”  The crowd as ever surges to join in screaming out the lyrics.  Weinman is on the speaker stacks, Tuttle is hanging into the crowd, and Puciato is manhandling punters by the head, forcing them to yell into the mic with him.

 

There are hardcore bands that can put on a show like this.  However those bands tend to play simplistic music and performance of the actual song is sacrificed for the intensity.  Dillinger play extremely irregular and technical music.  A member of DEP might miss the odd note when he is fighting the crowd – but that will be it.  No other band plays music as complex with the stage energy that they have.

Also most bands that bring this kind of physical attack to a show have short lived careers. These bands break up after burning twice as bright for half as long.  Dillinger, in various forms, have honed their craft for well over a decade.  Their set is no longer just a brutal series of off-kilter riffs and drum patterns broken up by jazzy interludes.  The set includes a much more diverse path from their bread and butter brutal metal to anthem rock to glitchy pop rock – all done with their trademark intensity.

If you’re not a fan by now, there is probably nothing I can do to convince you.  But you sure are missing out on one of the best live acts around.

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