The Dillinger Escape Plan is universally heralded as one of the best live acts around, and for good reason. Fire breathing, Justin Timberlake covers, and an hour of chaos the likes of which you've never seen are just part of the reason. Well, on October 6th, that Chaos descended into the Saratoga Winners club, in Albany, New York.
And goddamn was there chaos.
Not immediately, however. For the second time on a show I was slated to see with Zao on the bill, they dropped off. This time they were opening, however, and that slot was taken by local Albany mosh metal band Held Under. You know the drill with this type of band: An overwhelmingly repetitive metal sound, with some hardcore breakdowns thrown in there, too. Nothing worth mentioning here, just a quick set leading into A Life Once Lost.
Now, having changed their sound pretty drastically since I've seen them last, I wasn't sure what to expect. What I got, however, was an extremely solid, albeit somewhat repetitive set from the Philadelphia five-piece in ALOL. Taking heavily from their newest release, Hunter, their set went for a little more than half an hour. Their singer had a fair amount of energy, and if nothing else he was able to get kids to open up the floor and start dancing, which, with my experience in Albany, is when the goons come out. At one point, the music stopped for the singer to yell, "this is the song you kill people to!" And that's pretty much exactly what happened. The singer interacted plenty with the crowd, though the only song I know for sure they played was "Hunter," as the rest was sort of muddled to me. No matter though, the wait was over, and Dillinger's set was finally upon us.
The venue turned almost pitch black, and what sounded like Journey started to come out of the speakers. After a few minutes of nothing, Dillinger walked on, said absolutely nothing, and launched into all sorts of insanity. This was the first time I'd seen them since Greg replaced Dimitri on vocals, and while I'd heard complaints of Greg live, he was far better than I remember Dimitri being. Dillinger rifled through their 50-minute set with intensity the likes of which I have never seen. It's hard to even comprehend that the band's guitarists can play even three-chord punk, let alone Dillinger's ridiculous time signatures and starts and stops with the amount they thrash around. Both guitarists vaulted themselves right into the crowd at various points, never missing a single beat. The set also found Greg jumping, climbing, and leaping off anything and everything he could find. Speakers, stacks, steel beams, nothing was safe. And like his bandmates, he never missed a note. His vocal range is just as impressive live as on record, as they played a great mix of songs from all their releases, minus the self-titled, including the rarely played and personal favorite of mine, "Destro's Secret." Fifty some-odd minutes later, in the wake of their complete and utter destruction, DEP ended with "We Are the Storm." The set list, in no particular order, looked like this:
- "43% Burnt"
- "We Are the Storm"
- "Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants"
- "The Mullet Burden"
- "Sunshine the Werewolf"
- "Sugar Coated Sour"
- "When Good Dogs Do Bad Things"
- "Destro's Secret"
- "Baby's First Coffin"
As tough an act as that was to follow, Unearth tried their damndest. Not being familiar with the band at all, I was very much impressed at how tight they were, and their overall stage presence, though nobody touches Dillinger in either of those categories. Unearth is much more akin to metal acts like Darkest Hour than the chaos of DEP, but regardless, it was a long set that included a lot of their most well-liked stuff, or so my friends told me. The guitarists stayed essentially stationary, but the lead singer had a powerful voice that commanded the crowd well. I'm not as familiar with their material, but I do know they played "The Great Dividers," "Black Hearts Now Reign," and "Only the People." A great set, but after what was witnessed with Dillinger, there was simply no way to top it. A great show all around, however, with plenty to appreciate.