The Dillinger Escape Plan at the Observatory
The Dillinger Escape Plan is a metal band from New Jersey, and one of my favorites. Those of you familiar with the metal scene will know that they are breaking up after their next album (out in October), so I knew I had to see them at least once more before they called it quits.
I was a bit surprised that they weren’t playing the main room, but in the smaller Constellation Room. In hindsight, it made sense. Dillinger, although very popular in their niche, is a very niche band and I doubt they would have been able to fill the main room on such short notice. I prefer smaller, more intimate shows anyway so I was more than satisfied.
As usual, I arrived early, solo. I use that time to promote my artwork among the other attendees. I decided to change up my self-promotion strategy a bit. Typically, I show up wearing my Big Lebowski tee (which is available here), but this time I wore my new St. Patrick caricature tee, pictured below. (Click the image to purchase.) I received a couple of compliments and inquiries, but nothing like I usually do. I’ll stick with Lebowski from now on.
My buddy Will arrived shortly after I had, and we chatted over a few drinks before the first act.
Author & Punisher
The opening act was a solo project from San Diego called Author & Punisher. The music can be classified as doom industrial. I liked it a lot, and I was impressed at both his set up and the sounds he was able to get out of his “instruments.” I put the word in quotes because the only instrument he played that could be called a typical instrument was his keyboard. With his left hand, he’d play a machine that looked like a marine throttle. He’d use that to vary the loudness and humming of various ambient sounds. With is right, he had a sliding beam on a track that he’d smash into a block in front or in back. This was the percussion. Slamming to the front would make the well-known industrial music “tdoof” sound and back was the “tssh.”
For the vocals, he had some sort of device on the mic that was sectioned off. He’d get a different noise filter by singing/screaming into different sections of the device. One setting sounded demonic, another electronic, and another was just his unfiltered scream. Very interesting stuff, and he was obviously a master at what he was doing. Being a one-man band cannot be easy.
He was more than just gimmick, however. This sort of thing could easily fall into cheesy gimmick territory. Thankfully, the music was solid, if not completely immersive. I liked most of the songs, loved a few, and hated one of them. The best track was also the last; a song called Terrorbird. (I’ve embedded it below.) The third member of our group, Dave, had arrived in time to see the last couple of songs. He loved it, and was upset that he missed most of the set. Of course, I gave him my “always show up for the opening bands” speech. Doing so has introduced me to many acts I now love, including Animals as Leaders, The Contortionist, Toothgrinder, and Silver Snakes. If I came late, I wouldn’t have known about any of these bands that now get a regular rotation in my playlists.
Author & Punisher Setlist: TBD; if you have it, please let me know.
Sound: ★★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★★★ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★½ out of 5
Overall: ★★★½ out of 5
The Dillinger Escape Plan
Okay, for those of you who read this blog regularly, you know how I said At the Drive-In would be at the top of the list of best concerts of the year? Well, Dillinger Escape Plan took them down a peg. THIS was the most fun I’ve had at a concert this year, and maybe the most fun I’ve ever had at a live show.
I’ve seen The Dillinger Escape Plan twice before: once as a Freshman at Rutgers in 2000, and once again in 2010 on their Option Paralysis Tour. (That second show in 2010 was where I discovered Animals as Leaders.) This third time blew them both out of the water. The Dillinger Escape Plan has always been known for their chaotic, frenzied live show, even in the late 90s/early 2000s when they were an up-and-coming Jersey band who used turquoise Christmas lights to jazz up their show. They always play like they have something to prove, even though they don’t. I think one of the reasons why they’re calling it quits is age. The live shows MUST take a toll on their bodies, and they don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the live performance. They want to go out on a high note, and I think they will.
As the band took the stage, the room seemed to get smaller as everyone pushed forward. I kind of hung out along the fringes for a bit, but it didn’t last long. Dave, to get back at me for my lecture, grabbed my arms and dragged me into the mosh pit during the song Milk Lizard. When I realized that I wasn’t going to get trampled like I did at Lamb of God, I moshed with the rest of the crowd on and off. During the song Farewell, Mona Lisa, however, I was done with the margins and I ran up to the front of the crowd to sing/scream along with Greg Puciato, the lead singer. (He’s also the lead singer of the wildly different act The Black Queen, who I had seen in January.) Greg always encourages crowd participation, and it greatly enhances the concert experience. He’s not afraid to jump or step into the crowd, which he did. On me. He didn’t talk much between songs, but he did tease the crowd that they needed stage diving lessons. (He would know.) Ben Weinman, the lead guitarist, also dove into the crowd to rapturous applause. These guys know how to put on a show.
I stayed up front for the remainder of the set. During the encore, the band encouraged everyone to rush the stage and dive off. I didn’t do that, but I was there to help people on and off stage. For my trouble, I was rewarded for my time in the line of fire with a drumstick at the end of the night.
The setlist was the only aspect of the show I wouldn’t give 5 stars, but it’s getting four. Most of the songs were from their latest album, 2013’s excellent One of Us is the Killer. (I’ve embedded a video below.) They also played a new song, which played well with the fans. Though the album’s not out yet, they released the song Limerent Death ahead of time on iTunes and YouTube. The highlight for me, though, was Farewell, Mona Lisa. That’s also Dave’s favorite, so we were screaming along. It was very satisfying.
This was, by far, my favorite concert this year. I’m looking forward to seeing Weinman’s new band this December, Giraffe Tongue Orchestra. I’d like to go see Dillinger again before they call it quits, but if that’s not in the cards, I’m very happy with my last memory of them.
The Dillinger Escape Plan Setlist: Prancer | Limerent Death | Milk Lizard | Panasonic Youth | Room Full of Eyes | Hero of the Soviet Union | Nothing’s Funny | One of Us Is the Killer | Happiness Is a Smile | Good Neighbor | Farewell, Mona Lisa | When I Lost My Bet
Encore: The Mullet Burden | Sunshine the Werewolf
Setlist: ★★★★ out of 5
Sound: ★★★★★ out of 5
Energy: ★★★★★ out of 5
Live Performance: ★★★★★ out of 5
Overall: ★★★★★ out of 5
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