The Dillinger Escape Plan Close Out Fall Tour in Hartford, Conn. [Photos]
The Dillinger Escape Plan's live reputation is like no other. Their penchant for recklessness and intense performances over the last 20 years have seen them rise to a level of popularity rarely achieved by such abrasive and technical groups. The news of the band's impending breakup coincided with their final album, the recently released Dissociate, and their fall U.S. tour had been one of legend that saw more death-defying balcony leaps from frontman Greg Puciato (as well as a quick bite of a fan's burger) and it all came to an end at the Webster Theater in Hartford, Conn., on Saturday (Nov. 19).
Fans packed the venue early as local bands played on a secondary stage, getting the chance to say they opened for the legendary Dillinger on their last American run. Swelling with what had to be a near-capacity crowd, the venue turned into a sea of outstretched hands and nervous anticipation as the fog machine drenched the room in a thick haze to the tune of oscillating, low-humming electronic ambience and dim overhead lights.
As the lights changed, each moment was met with a roar from the crowd, who grew increasingly anxious over the grueling 10 minute buildup as the fog continued to obscure the stage. The pulsating ambience finally came to an end as the band took the stage, masked by the dense fog that turned them into mere silhouettes, showcasing every slight movement from the lightning-charged Puciato and guitarist Ben Weinman. The Dillinger Escape Plan promptly broke the tension with the hulking "Limerent Death," the opening track from Dissociate.
Weinman went airborne early in the set, showing no regard for his guitar's well being, launching himself from the stage, past the barrier gap, landing a few heads deep in the crowd as they kept him up all while he never broke stride in his playing (though with their brand of atonality, we can't be entirely sure). After Weinman managed to make it back to the stage, Dillinger kept on with the erratic pacing of their setlist, following up the Miss Machine track "Panasonic Youth" with another Dissociate offering, the emotional and trance-inducing "Symptom of Terminal Illness."
As seen in our Instagram post below from the show, Dillinger's surgically timed light show is as dizzying as their fretwork and sudden time changes. Endless barrages of strobes and bright lights at shoulder-height onstage were backed by the Webster's notoriously bass-heavy sound that resonated deeply within the concrete confines as Puciato and Weinman remained the focal point of the performance.
The band leaned heavily on their more recent catalog with over half of the set lined with tracks from the new album and its predecessor, One of Us Is the Killer, with cuts like "Low Feels Blvd," "Surrogate," the moody "One of Us Is the Killer" and "When I Lost My Bet." Ire Works hits "Milk Lizard" and "Black Bubblegum" were expectedly met with even more energy from the crowd, who left a wide open pit in the middle of the floor the entire set, blatantly disobeying the signs declaring that no moshing, crowdsurfing or stage diving would be permitted — and no, these signs were not enforced as security spent plenty of time hauling fans, as well as Weinman and Puciato, over the barrier.
Closing out the regular portion of the set was "Prancer," followed by an excited but somber crowd who stood in the dark waiting for Dillinger to return to the stage one more time. There was a distinct lack of chanting, but it seemed fans were busy discussing how pulverizing the set they had just witnessed was, speculating what the band would return to play for the encore all while balancing the emotion of likely seeing Dillinger for the last time.
Stepping back out under the lights, Weinman traded his guitar for a keyboard as the group broke into the, by all comparison, tame "Mouth of Ghosts." As was the case throughout the night, Puciato did little talking between songs, squeezing in the words "two more" before going into the final pair of songs of both the night and the tour: "Sunshine the Werewolf" and the Calculating Infinity favorite, "43% Burnt." Fans might have been expecting one of Puciato's reputation-inflating leaps of fate, but unfortunately there was nothing for the singer to climb and subsequently drop down into the crowd from.
Instead, he and Weinman made their way back into the crowd as stage hands and security successfully attempted to keep enough length on the microphone cable for Puciato to continue shrieking as he was passed along by frenzied fans. And just like that, it was over.
The physical toll of performing a Dillinger show is one of the reasons the band has chosen to bow out, though there is no semblance of a waning effort anywhere onstage. It's the end of an era and another tough blow as we continue to lose some of the most defining bands over this last year, either voluntarily or from the reaper's sickle which has claimed far too many of our most cherished acts.
Rounding out the bill were the cinematic O'Brother, who seesaw between gloomy, barren musical hazes and pedal board-driven trances all hinging around sweeping, catchy moments that offer a light in the suspended darkness. The band had small boxed lights on the floor of the stage, which helped establish a more ethereal mood that their music called for.
New York's Car Comb also received an assist from the bowel-shaking low end of the Webster with their mathematical, djent-focused rhythms drawing obvious comparisons to Meshuggah's warped metal stylings. Opening the night were Cult Leader, who utilized just one light inside a transparent kick drum to set the tone for their pit-hungry riffage that blurred the line between crusty hardcore and fist-swinging slam.
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