Dillinger 4th of July With Dillinger 4, Masked Intruder, the Brokedowns, Canadian Rifle, and Direct Hit! Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis Friday, July 4, 2014
Independence Day is a time to reflect on the reasons we love this great nation of ours so much. A time to celebrate the freedoms we Americans often take for granted, and a time to remember the sacrifices of those who have fallen to protect them. It's about Old Glory, family, baseball, and apple pie.
Screw it, who am I kidding? The 4th of July is an excuse for Dillinger Four to throw the best holiday punk show of the summer and invite us all down to the Triple Rock to party. God bless America.
While we're reflecting on things that we treasure but often take for granted, let's talk about Dillinger Four. They've been active since 1994, meaning that this year's D4th is somewhere around their 20-year anniversary. In that time, our iconoclastic local punk heroes have released four stellar albums and garnered a cult following among lovers of melodic, aggressive music around the nation. One might not realize it at first glance, but the sound that they pioneered has been massively influential on the generation of bands that formed in their wake, especially here in the Midwest. That influence is made starkly apparent at their annual D4th of July shows, which evolved from a single-night stand at their home base of the Triple Rock to a two-day mini-festival that draws in supporting talent from as far away as Brooklyn and Belgium.
These days, Dillinger Four play only a few shows a year, making the 4th of July gigs all the more important for the faithful. While the band already have a well-earned reputation for wacky drunken shenanigans during their performances, the D4th shows tend to be the wildest and least coherent of the year. At this point, bassist and singer Paddy Costello has dropped trou onstage more often than most fans can count, spun out hilarious and caustic rants fueled by whiskey, and even tangled with mischievous little people. D4 diehards now rate shows on a continuum of drunkenness, rather than a binary. The thing is, this year was relatively devoid of goofy debauchery. Instead, the band just played a kickass show.
Guitarist and singer Erik Funk's voice sounded particularly strong this year, especially on hit material from Situationist Comedy like "Sell the House...," although Paddy and a few members of the audience might have taken the song's line "Smoke 'em if you got 'em cause we're never gonna learn" a bit too literally. Good thing D4 owns the bar, you can't really 86 your boss for smoking cigs onstage.
"But Zach!" You say, "This is a D4 show! Surely the band did something crazier than just play their songs really well!" You would be correct, dear reader, although this year's antics were so comparably tame to years past that they almost don't warrant a mention. There were a couple of hilarious Paddy rants, as per usual. Topics this year included Warped Tour guyliner ("Fuck eyeliner"), poor tipping habits ("We tax tips, you know. If you stiff your server, they just paid for the privilege of waiting on you"), and the usual nonsensical pronouncements. Crowdsurfing was especially intense this year.
When one surfer got caught jumping just as a song ended, Paddy and guitarist Billy Morisette hauled him back onstage so Mr. Costello could give him a good-natured razzing for wearing flip-flop sandals to a punk show ("My buddy here's got some toes I'm going to need y'all to watch out for!"). A Jameson bottle was passed, beers were guzzled, mic stands toppled everywhere in response to wayward kicks from surfers, and songs like "Maximum Piss and Vinegar" and "Doublewhiskeycokenoice" absolutely slayed.
For the encore, the band ran through the mellow, minimal "The Classical Arrangement" for its first and only performance in front of a live audience. The song's plaintive, vunerable quality made it a nice breather before the utter chaos brought on by the band's most American of tunes, "Let Them Eat Thomas Paine." With its massive riff and defiant chorus of "Don't Tread on Me!" the song perfectly captures the semi-ironic relationship the band seems to have with the USA's most patriotic of days. While the song's lyrics make a pointed critique, on the 4th of July, it's hard not to howl along like the British are right outside your door.
The Openers: Christ, but there were a lot of 'em this year. Direct Hit! from Milwaukee played a more manic, melodic hardcore-influenced version of the D4 sound that we've come to know and love. While the group has a nagging tendency to overwrite their lyrics and aim for unnecessary cleverness, their commitment to an exciting live show is particularly admirable, riling up the crowd with an extremely high-energy performance. That level of psychotic energy proved tough for Chicago-based Canadian Rifle to follow, but the band's technical riffs and guttural delivery were enjoyable nonetheless. The Brokedowns recall our hometown heroes Off With Their Heads, and made a nice warm-up for D4 with their tough but hooky two-minute blasts.
Masked Intruder, also from Milwaukee was direct support, and probably had the biggest following. While they've definitely got a gimmick, it's a pretty hilarious one. The band dresses in color coded ski-masks and speak in wise-guy '40s gangster accents, and bubblegum punk songs are loosely themed around being comic book villains. In a particularly inspired bit of stagecraft, the band had two fans dress as cops and post up onstage, mean-mugging the crowd until the group used the powers of their rock 'n' roll to turn them into cheerleaders for the group, stage diving and riling up the audience.
Critic's Bias: D4's Situationist Comedy was one of the first punk records I truly loved, and I've been a huge fan ever since.
Random Notebook Dump: Tried to grab the only remaining copy of the setlist at the end of the night and got aced out by an OG punk photographer. When I asked to borrow it long enough to copy down the info, he just muttered, "It's not like it matters anyway..." before begrudgingly helping out. Thanks dude!
Set list: The Great American Going Out of Business Sale A Jingle for the Product Super Powers Enable Me to Blend in with Machinery Folk Song Sell the House Sell the Car Sell the Kids Find Someone Else Forget It I'm Never Coming Back Forget It Noble Stabbings!! Our Science Is Tight Mosh for Jesus Minimum Wage Is a Gateway Drug "Swamp" Maximum Piss and Vinegar Doublewhiskeycokenoice Gainesville D4=Putting the "F" Back in "Art" --Encore-- The Classical Arrangement Let Them Eat Thomas Paine
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