When the Dillinger Escape Plan delayed their fall tour (thus making it a combination autumn-winter tour), more than the circumstances of time and weather would be different. Stolen Babies were the originally scheduled opener on the tour, so I checked them out on their MySpace beforehand and were horrified. Then I double-checked the show info and it seemed like they dropped off. So I get to the venue with a friend later on, doors open and we're immediately directed to the merch/bar area so soundcheck can finish, and I see that SHAT is selling merch. SHAT. No fucking way.
Way. SHAT played. First, obviously. The brainchild of frontman Jeff Wood (former Dillinger bassist, as he let the crowd know), the mostly naked band marched through the floor as an introduction -- three-fourths of them decked out in shit and piss-stained underwear and creepy Kabuki(-esque) masks. Wood himself wore his traditional garb: a thong and attached strap-on exposing his testicles for all to see, helmet, knee pads and boots, with 25 dildos in all on his body, including a Barbie doll strapped to a dildo crucifix. Wood did an admirable job using the in-between-song banter to link his perverted tunes from one to the other, which included such smash hits as "I Threw Up on Her Cunt," "Tit Fuck," "Fuck, I Stepped in Shit," "The Crabs" and "Cherry Pop." Much like the band's albums, imaginably, it was admittedly pretty hilarious at first and began to wear thin as the set wore on. I'll probably never get to see Anal Cunt though (irony noted), and whether that's a good or bad thing, this was an acceptable substitution.
Genghis Tron came on shortly thereafter, and doubting they would use Dillinger's drumkit, it seemed like the band unexpectedly consisted of only 3 members: two of them shared three keyboards; the other was a lone guitarist. No drummer? No bassist? Well, no second guitarist, certainly. Everyone seemed to contribute some vocal duties, with one keyboardist handling the leads. I'd liked what I'd heard from Genghis Tron anytime I'd checked out their MySpace in recent months, but their live show let me down. While the blasts of grind, tech moments, drum machine guzzling and trip-hop elements made for a fairly dynamic, intricate sound, their pre-programmed base seemed like quite a crutch. Not having more members honestly eliminated much of the potential entertainment for me. My friend, a Tron fan himself, said he fully approved of the set, but I was mostly disappointed despite the band failing to miss a note. Their 31-minute set included "Arms," among others.
A Life Once Lost were sort of the opposite: a band okay if not totally forgettable on record, but energetic, explosive and enthralling in person. Granted, they were already in my good books for selling nearly their entire catalog at $7 apiece (their new album even being 6) at their merch table, but their twisting, gnarled shards of Meshuggah-nodding metalcore sure didn't detract from my opinion. The singer stormed the entire length of the stage repeated times, sometimes raging so hard it seemed like he was stumbling over his own feet. Their shredding guitarists often perched on those boxed lights to let the crowd better grab a glimpse of said shred. Crammed into the band's 44-minute set, among others, were "The Wanderer," "Firewater Joyride," "Rehashed," "Ill Will" and closer "Vulture," in which the singer came to the barricade and leaned into the crowd for some fierce sing-alongs, just about the first major instance of crowd interaction that night.
Having ALOL get me plenty hyped for Dillinger, the bastard headliners threw the same exact damn intro they used on their fall 2005 tour up on the projection screen (you know, "Are you asleep? Good."). And once again, they didn't take the advantage of what would be an intense transition from the countdown right to the opening howl of "Panasonic Youth." Oh well -- besides that and the disclusion of a few songs I'd like to have heard from Miss Machine, my points of contention towards the band's set were nil. They did take breaks between every song for a bit, but they were brief ones. The band exemplified quality over quantity for their all-too-quick, pulverizing 53-minute set. From the start they were their usual selves: "Panasonic Youth" acted as the ultimate opener; Ben Weinman constantly thrashed about wildly, often stepping onto the barricade and falling into members of the front row; Greg Puciato would do the same, while he scaled the height of a stage right ladder during "Sugar Coated Sour," often looking like he was going to take the thirty-foot (or so) plunge to the crowd below (he merely jumped five to ten feet back down onto the stage). However, there were a few more-than-pleasant surprises -- original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis was present, and came out to do his part on "Fix Your Face," which also featured a hyperactive, bizarre character in a skeleton suit, who ripped it off to reveal his Borat thong swimsuit (same color, too). It was a strange but incredibly cool sight to see Puciato and Minakakis screaming alongside each other; it was almost like Henry Rollins jumping on stage with one of the Flag's followers. ...Well, not quite I guess, but Dimitri did bear a striking resemblance to HR. For the intro of "Good Dogs," Puciato let a crowd member scream the intro, which the fellow nailed well -- granted, he totally fucked throwing the mic back to Puciato, which landed between the stage and barricade with an embarrassing *thud.* "Sunshine the Werewolf" provided one of the most serious closers to a set I've seen in a long time -- as the breakdown started, Puciato disappeared off stage for a split second and returned with a lit torch. Yep, they've brought back the fire-breathing -- at least here in NYC. Puciato began filling his mouth with some sort of liquid (the bottle didn't look like an alcohol-containing one, though) and used it to ignite the flame, doing it numerous times. The floor security guards looked a bit frightened. For the final blow (pun actually not originally intended, but hey, it works), he handed it to an audience member, who held it for Puciato as the singer blew into the flame, which extended out inches over the heads of a dozen or so people. Shit was intense.
Again, three words can sum up Dillinger easy: quality over quantity. Ire Works may have slightly disappointed fans (including myself), but the songs still rip live for the most part and provide those massive crowd sing-alongs all the same (when the ones including such are played). Here's to hoping they're still this wild when they do their various support tours in 2008.
Set list (9:58-10:51):
- Panasonic Youth
- 43% Burnt
- Fix Your Face [f/ Dimitri Minakakis]
- Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants
- Baby's First Coffin
- The Mullet Burden
- When Acting as a Particle [minus the studio version's first :38 or so]
- Nong Eye Gong
- Milk Lizard
- Destro's Secret
- When Good Dogs Do Bad Things
- Sugar Coated Sour
- Party Smasher [most likely]
- Sunshine the Werewolf