You want extreme? You want complex? You want heavy? You want maniacal? Well, The Dillinger Escape Plan was all that and more this past Thursday night at BB Kings Blues Club in NYC. Sea of Tranquility's Pete Pardo and Grant Kikkert were on hand for a night of progressive hardcore & metal, also featuring the excellent Every Time I Die, Zao, and Misery Signals.
Read on for the complete review.
For those of us who live outside of NYC and work for a living, the show on this night, November 4, 2004, was set up very well to allow people like myself to enjoy the bands and get home at a reasonable hour. Basically an all-ages show, there were many teenagers and younger adults in attendance, so the promoters kicked off the festivities at 7:00 PM with the band Misery Signals. These guys had the metal-core sound down pat, and played a bombastically heavy set of doomy, riff-heavy moshers led by a singer who had a pretty good stage presence. The two guitar players churned out heavy riff after heavy riff, and their music has some decent hooks and catchy musical passages that had the crowd roaring with approval.
Next up were Zao, who played more of a death-metal/hardcore style, led by a singer whose raspy vocals and nominal stage presence kind of held them back a little. There wasn't a lot here that hasn't been done before and better, but the musicians in the band certainly tried hard, especially the drummer and the two guitar players, both of whom laid down effective bursts of hardcore riffs. It wasn't until the bands two final numbers that they kicked it into overdrive, mixing clean & gruff vocals with intricate riffs, and helped bring their set to a storming conclusion.
This was my first experience with Every Time I Die, and it was quite obvious that this was not the case with most in attendance this night. The crowd was in a frenzy when the band took the stage, led by singer Keith Buckley, whose Ashton Kutscher- look mattered nothing, as this guy had the fans in the palm of his hand the whole set. Buckley can scream, and he can move around the stage, dive into the surging crowd, and not miss a note. On a few cuts he showed that he also has a melodic side as well, but the most part, the singer proved to have lungs that could tear your head off, and paired with the brutal, thrashy-hardcore arrangements, it all worked out quite well. Many of the moshing maniacs at the front of the stage were singing along to every song, and after the bands near hour-long set, looked fairly exhausted. I'm sure ETID's slot on the Ozzfest tour this year helped them gain lots of exposure, and it's a safe bet that once this tour ends and they go back to record the follow-up to their Hot Damn CD, their own headline tour will follow in 2005.
So, how do you describe The Dillinger Escape Plan in a live setting? Think of a rampaging tornado, as it twists into a town or city and obliterates everything in its path. Well, that's kind of what happened this evening as they took the stage around 9:30, as the band steamrolled into the opening track from the Miss Mercury CD called "Panasonic Youth". Lead singer Greg Puciato is a house of fire, with biceps and neck muscles bugling, ranting and shouting maniacal vocals, while his bandmates whirl and race across the stage. Not only do these guys make you dizzy with their onstage shenanigans, but their fingers and hands manage to have you seeing stars as well. The two guitar players (and one was a fill-in due to an injury in the band) managed to spew out intricate, chunky riffs that owed as much to King Crimson and Steve Vai, as they did to Slayer or Mr. Bungle. Constant time changes ran rampant throughout the complex crowd pleaser "Sunshine the Werewolf", which had stage divers flying through the air and people in the mosh pit whipped into a frenzy. The band played a bunch of tracks from the new CD, including the atmospheric "Phone Home", "We Are the Storm", the raging "Van Damsel", and the noisy "Baby's First Coffin." In addition, they covered some older songs, like the crushing mix of hardcore and jazz-fusion of "Sugar Coated Sour", the brutally heavy "43% Burnt", the bizarre "When Good Dogs Do Bad Things", or the steamrolling "The Running Board." Drummer Chris Pennie played like a man possessed throughout the entire set, pounding the skins with reckless abandon, yet with the ferocity of a veteran fusion player. In fact, amidst all the pummeling sounds and screaming vocals, lies a band that has some very serious jazz and prog rock chops, which is why this band has been able to lure many listeners in from the progressive music scene over the years. There were chops galore in the DEP set this night, along with little subtlety, and after it was all said and done, the train ride back home was but a blur.