Saturday, February 21, 2009

Go see the Dillinger Escape Plan

How to endorse a Dillinger Escape Plan show? Their bellicose and abrupt math-metal requires particularly adventuresome ears, and their stage shows are violent and loud enough to send many concertgoers home early. But they're also the best live metal band playing clubs right now, as proven by their recent show at Webster Hall's studio.

After solid opening performances from alt-metal instrumentalists Caverns and Knife the Glitter, a smattering of chords from 10-year-old EP track "The Mullet Burden" signaled Dillinger's slowest moment of night, seconds before half of the band was in the audience. Like four Iggy Pops with a drummer (noob Billy Rymer, who nailed every song,) the band violently flung themselves into the crowd, destroyed equipment and somehow never missed a note of their exhilarating compositions. Racing through some of their earliest noisecore tracks, Dillinger showed up fans who complained about the melodic tracks on the recent Ire Works by playing their most aggressive math-metal with a pace and fierceness that early records like Calculating Infinity couldn't come close to. Still, the wildly infectious "Milk Lizard" and the rarely-played "Horse Hunter" were more than antagonistic enough to hold their own with early thrashers like "43% Burnt" and "Sugar Coated Sour."

The most traditional-rock moment came with a surprise cover of Living Colour's signature "Cult of Personality." Fans closer to the bandmembers' ages screamed along every word (although missing the cue for the JFK quote) while everyone got possibly the only Living Colour cover that could match the hooky aggression of the original. Haw all you want about Greg Puciato being unable to match Corey Glover's range, I'll take Puciato's ability to carry a tune over Glover's need to show off his chops any night. This avowed Living Colour fan wonders if the original band could pull off such a powerful rendition today.

Sweating profusely, heaving cymbal stands at the crowd and swinging (sometimes upside down) from fragile-looking ceiling lighting, Dillinger's performance was only matched by their music. Profusely sweating guitarist Ben Weinman played behind the back and crowd-surfed while emitting the agile and deafening assaults of "Fix Your Face" and "Panasonic Youth," and recent addition Jeff Tuttle is now a vital part of the chaos, living up to his GG Allin t-shirt with by creating as much of a din as any of his bandmates, between slamming into speakers and diving through the crowd. Other than Andrew W.K., no headbangers obliterate the band/fans barrier as the Dillinger Escape Plan do.

Provoked into a rare encore by the sold-out crowd, Dillinger capped the night with Miss Machine standout "Sunshine the Werewolf" before going beyond all expectations by seizing Nine Inch Nails' "Wish." By then shirtless, Weinman destroyed his guitar by crashing it down several times a few inches away from the crowd, ending the set about 80 minutes in. It was a short night for a non-Dillinger metal show, but a full-length set from the second-best underground metal band in the world couldn't have topped the five guys in Dillinger that evening.

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