The Dillinger Escape Plan
Venue: Tramshed, Clare Rd, Cardiff CF11 6QP
Date: 23rd January 2017
Promoter: MJR/Party Smasher Inc
Loud screaming is not uncommon in Cardiff: the city hosts myriad rugby matches in a given year and the Welsh are nothing if not rugby fans. But I’ll wager Cardiff has never experienced screaming quite like that displayed by The Dillinger Escape Plan, or their support acts Ho99o9 (pronounced ‘Horror’) and Primitive Weapons. This trio of hardcore groups practically decimated the eardrums of the audience at The Tramshed on January, to say nothing of the security guards trying desperately to ensure neither the performers nor the audience were hurt during the multiple attempts at crowd surfing.
Primitive Weapons, plucked from the growing roster on the Party Smasher Inc label run by Dillinger guitarist Ben Weinman, opened the night with a set of reasonably standard post-hardcore. They poured a lot of energy behind it, but did not seem to be able to sell the crowd on their sound – most of the audience gave off a vibe of having heard it all before. To their credit, they did not let this unenthusiastic response dampen their enthusiasm, and ploughed on with their set, demonstrating good chemistry and solid riffs. Bigger and better things await these newcomers if they can push their own envelope further: some originality in their songs would help immensely.
Next up were Ho99o9. I asked them at the merch stand afterwards how they described their sound. The two vocalists gave very different answers: TheOMG paused, and said “rap.” Eaddy chimed in with “heaven and hell and anal sex with no lube.” Frankly, I leave it to you to decide how to classify their sound, but the closest guide I can give you is to imagine if David Lynch, Trent Reznor, and two rappers decided to make a hardcore punk act consisting of a drummer, distorted guitars sampled on a backing track, and the two rappers. TheOMG clambered on stage in a blue mask and a white lacy dress lifted from a Victorian ghost story, and Eaddy followed wearing a smart white shirt, crisp black trousers, and dress shoes. They then proceeded to bring the house down with their unique mix of venomous vocals, both rapped and screamed in equal measure, accompanied by squealing guitar samples and furious drumming. At first, the crowd seemed unsure how to react to this aural barrage, but were soon gleefully moshing and headbanging. Eaddy leapt into the pit several times, much to the consternation of the security guards, yet somehow managed to keep rapping. A more perfect support act for the madness of the headliners you will never find.
It says a lot about the bands playing that The Dillinger Escape Plan were the most melodic act on stage. Opening with ‘Limerent Death’ from their latest album Dissociation, they took the audience on a tour through virtually their entire discography, including the Under the Running Board EP: ‘The Mullet Burden’ was given an airing for the first time ever. Other standout songs included an impassioned performance of the iconic ‘43% Burnt’ as the closer, and full-throated audience accompaniment for fan favourites ‘Black Bubblegum’ and ‘Milk Lizard’. By the standards of previous performances, in which he has been noted for literally butting heads with audience members, the evening was a relatively sedate one for vocalist Greg Puciato: while at no point did he sit and have a cup of tea on stage à la Reading 2016, he certainly didn’t defecate into a plastic bag à la Reading 2002. However, this did not diminish the tangible ferocity put into his screams. On the other hand, guitarist Ben Weinman never stood still, instead leaping on and off the amps, into the audience, and back again. His frenetic acrobatics did not stop him keeping pace with the energetic work being put in by the other band members, and the tight chemistry of their performance lifted the performance from standard Dillinger fare to a mind-blowing display of their furiously complex mathcore, worthy of a farewell tour.
If there was a problem with their performance, it was a slightly muddy microphone sound for Puciato, which meant his clean singing was not as audible as it could have been. However, there were very few songs in the set that required clean singing, so it was not an insurmountable hurdle. The band’s incredibly tight chemistry held even while the band were hurling themselves across the stage like dervishes on drugs, and the palpable enjoyment of the music they were playing gave an amazing energy to their performance.
There will never be another band like The Dillinger Escape Plan. Their energetic music, impressive chemistry, and astounding live performances will be sorely missed.
The Dillinger Escape Plan
Symptom of Terminal Illness
When I Lost My Bet
Sugar Coated Sour
Hero of the Soviet Union
Low Feels Blvd
One of Us Must Die
Nothing to Forget
Farewell Mona Lisa
Mouth of Ghosts
Sunshine the Werewolf
The Mullet Burden