Monday, May 20, 2013

Ten Metal Bands to See Before You Die: The Dillinger Escape Plan


With the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosting a schmancy “Punk: From Chaos To Couture” gala attended by Hilfigers and Kardashians this month, one could be fooled into thinking that all danger has been completely erased from rock n' roll. Then you see a band like The Dillinger Escape Plan. Rock music is going to be OK, although I worry that these guys might not be.

When anything gets burned or broken at a rock show, usually it's there to be destroyed. Notice how Paul Stanley's guitar shatters in the exact same place, at the same time in the show, night after night after night. But when something--instruments, equipment, bones--gets broken or torched at a Dillinger show, one senses that these boys just couldn't control themselves. If Greg Puciato starts running towards the crowd, get out of the way. If he brings out a torch, duck. If there's an encore, you've done something right. Show me someone who thinks that Karen O is insane, and I'll show you someone who's never seen Greg Puciato.

Watching Ben Weinman play guitar reminds me of Jerry Lee Lewis setting his piano on fire, or Kurt Cobain flinging himself into Dave Grohl's drum kit. His ability to make math-rock stay in your head has earned him a spot among today's metal greats, but his performances are in a league with the most dangerous rock legends. I don't know many people who could play "Panasonic Youth" sitting down, much less while swinging the guitar around and violently jerking back and forth. Whoever is in charge of equipment at the Bowery Presents clubs probably begs the promoters to not book The Dillinger Escape Plan.

When I get a chance to breathe, sometimes I wonder how much further these guys can go. There may not be a more musically or physically demanding band in the world. I can't imagine they're getting much compensation, unless blogger admiration counts for something. Every time someone leaves the band, I'm a little disappointed but never too surprised. But whether Puciato, Weinman and the rest of DEP break up tonight (and, considering this month's One of Us is the Killer, that would be a crushing loss), or whether they're as young as Lemmy when they're 65, watching them on any stage is one of music's rarest and most dependable thrills.

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