Dillinger Escape Plan at First Avenue, 4/12/14
Photo by Erik Hess
Dillinger Escape Plan
with Trash Talk, Retox, and Shining
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Dillinger Escape Plan haven't played Minneapolis in some time, but their return made a huge impact. With excellent openers Trash Talk, Retox, and Shining rounding out a solid bill, it was an overall excellent night of experimental punk and metal at First Avenue.
Shining out of Norway played as the audience grew and warmed themselves up for what would become a lot of movement. There were the beginnings of some headbanging initially, but when lead singer and songwriter Jørgen Munkeby set the guitar down to begin his saxophone solo, the vibe caught everyone. Alongside the imminent-death-in-a-Nintendo-game synth, the sax took the group's black metal into circle-pit jazz territory.
Waltzing between genre lines, extended noise solos were equal parts Sabbath and free-form improvisation, and the avant-garde approach was met with approval. Doom stomps led way to spastic freakouts and overlong solos, and the closing song, a cover of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man," featured an impressive number of false endings that managed to prod the audience into excitement.
Photo by Erik Hess
Retox took the stage shortly afterwards, a less avant-garde hardcore group that specifically encouraged more movement. When vocalist Justin Pearson climbed past the barrier into the crowd ("Are you guys as bored as we are?" he asked as security began to gather), he sparked the already excited floor to begin circling up. Fast, heavy, and screamy, the songs satiated the people with good aggression-release music.
As the rest of the band slumped over their instruments, the wailing guitar drone in the middle of the set introducing "Boredom Is Counter-Revolutionary" raised the tension in the room and got massive cheers, once the drummer stopped spitting on the guitarist and came in with his giant fills. Keeping it tight and punchy, Retox pulled off a powerful set.
There seemed to be a large number of Trash Talk fans in the audience, possibly anticipating another interactive set like their last Mainroom appearance opening for Danny Brown and Action Bronson. There is an art to the circle pit, and frontman Lee Spielman is a master, knowing exactly how to guide crowds into true abandon. He spent most of the set on the floor, conducting the mosh pit with shouted commands between songs. The crunchy powerviolence would've pushed the people to movement either way, but Spielman toyed with the audience in interesting ways, like getting everyone to sit down at one point.
Photos by Erik Hess
The drive of the song was clearly agitating people to want to resume punching each other, but only once the drums dropped after a solo were they given permission to erupt. Trash Talk made the whole room amplify as they powered through the hybridized hardcore, and a number of songs came from next month's record on Odd Future Records snuck into the mix.
As a visual assault from screens, lights, and smoke machines backed up their opener "Prancer," DIllinger Escape Plan turned the place up ever further. Animated loops played in the background, displaying various creepy images from eye dissection to flies swarming dead birds. The songs are all wonderfully huge and meandering, recalling the explorations of Mike Patton and the melodies of Trent Reznor. Material was mostly pulled from last year's One of Us Is the Killer but also including their new tour-only 7 inch single, "Happiness Is a Smile," made up most of the set, but chunks of older cuts like "Farwell, Mona Lisa" and "Milk Lizard" played well alongside.
Photos by Erik Hess
The visual aspect was outstanding, with some very expressive lights matching the band's propulsive mathcore rhythms. Guitarist Ben Weinman had a number of insane stage tricks to contribute to his insanely brutal playing, including swinging his guitar completely around his shoulder several times mid-solo or leaping from atop the amps while playing in mid-air. Ignoring the sign posted on the venue doors, Weinman even surfed the crowd while playing, standing on hands, delivering a gigantic riff as the rest of the band gave an equal amount of energy.
The audience ate up every moment of the set, singing along to breakdowns or thrashing their bodies to the pummeling sound. The peaks and valleys of the songs mutated the energy in the room throughout the performance. Vocalist Greg Puciato has a great voice than can attack Judge-Doom-melting screeches as well as lilting harmonies, and he kept great control the whole time.
Photos by Erik Hess
The band discarded their instruments and left the stage after the chaotic "When I Lost My Bet," letting feedback speak for them before returning for their encore. Jumping directly from "Black Bubblegum" to Aphex Twin cover "Come to Daddy" to "Sunshine the Werewolf," the group brandished some of their hardest yet for the big finale. A massive ending to a powerful evening of music, Dillinger Escape Plan lived up to the anticipation.
Personal Bias: As always, being the one jotting notes instead of moshing, I experienced the show differently from many in attendance.
The Crowd: A range of ages of enthusiastic metal fans.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Gotta have respect for the guy who carries the box of beer on his head through the crowd."
Random Notebook Dump: A pair of glasses was destroyed in front of my eyes on two separate occasions. One mosh pit bro came prepared with flails seemingly out of Spiderman.
Farewell, Mona Lisa
Room Full Of Eyes
Happiness Is A Smile
Hero Of The Soviet Union
One Of Us Is The Killer
When I Lost My Bet
Come To Daddy
Sunshine The Werewolf
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