Dillinger Four and Paint It Black
February 4, 2011
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
If there's been one ironically consistent thing about Dillinger Four shows over the past 17 years, it's how utterly unpredictable--performance, banter, crowd, the whole package--they can be.
[jump] Dillinger Four the writers of smart, catchy, politically savvy punk rock songs sometimes get buried by Dillinger Four the chaotic live show, although at their best Erik Funk, Paddy Costello, Billy Morrisette, and Lane Peterson wrangle that chaos, walk right up to the fine line between genius and catastrophy, and thumb their noses gleefully. (It's not lost on the band that after all these years, someone in the crowd still shouts for Paddy to take his clothes off--they just don't bother to pay attention.) Further, while D4 have served as a gateway drug for plenty a misspent youth turned hipster in this town and still maintain a loyal local following, D4 shows are increasingly rare with the exception of their annual D4th of July show, so you never know what to expect out, including how many people are going to show up.
Still, not even Erik Funk, guitarist, vocalist, and Triple Rock owner, could have predicted the turnout on a February evening for what was, in essence, a favor to old friends. Philly hardcore (near-) legends Paint It Black, who are now divided between East and West Coasts were essentially looking for a show to play, and Minneapolis seemed like a good halfway point. Add Dillinger Four to the bill, along with up-and-comers Much Worse and Arms Aloft, and suddenly, you have a jam-packed, sold out, wild-eyed show full of young drunks, old farts, and those somewhere in between.
Falling in the old fart category, I squeezed into the sold-out crowd frustratingly late (kids, I tell you!) missing both Wisconsin's Arms Aloft and Minneapolis's Much Worse. Plenty of folks were more than happy to give me a full report on both bands, and rub plenty of salt in the wound. Arms Aloft plays one of the more inspired versions of D4-style catchy punk since Off With Their Heads, while Much Worse tends to lean towards straight-up hardcore with a hint of chaotic Japanese-style slop in the mix, and I stopped listening out of pure irritation after the tenth person told me what great sets I'd missed. Sorry, guys.
I wrangled my way through a sea of black hoodies and PBR cans to the side of the stage where I ended up stuck the rest of the night just as Paint It Black took the stage, starting off with a dynamic quasi-Fugazi instrumental bit as singer Dan Yemen took the stage, but quickly shifted into a blisteringly fast set of hardcore with a dash of catchy hooks. Paint It Black has been serving up this sound for almost ten years, and members' preceeding bands were pioneers, so they still do it better than just about anyone.
Dillinger Four took the stage soon after, and with some acknowledgement about shaking the rust off (their gear remains locked in their trailer, key missing, surrounded on all sizes by five feet of snow, making practicing a one-time deal with borrowed equipment) they jumped right into their set, and the crowd jumped in with them.
Sloppy? Out of practice? Perhaps. But it says something about a band's staying power that they can play a set picking evenly from all four full-length albums they've put out over the years and have all the songs feel just as vital as the first time people hear them. There were definitely some bumps, especially towards the end, but as the crowd pressed in all the way from the back wall to the very front of the stage, it seemed like they were hard pressed to notice, and the majority of those who did notice, didn't care.