The Dillinger Escape Plan

support Maybeshewill + Deathcrush
author AP date 17/10/13 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

Many a festival goer was undoubtedly struck by disappointment when, in my opinion, one of the most exciting names on this year's Roskilde Festival poster was removed on short notice. Ben Weinman, the notoriously acrobatic guitarist of The Dillinger Escape Plan, had broken his wrist during one of the band's performances. I didn't go to that festival this year, however, so the news was of little consequence to me; and anyhow, with a new album in "One of Us is the Killer" hitting the shelves in the Spring, it was to be expected that the band would follow up their planned summer festival duties with a full headlining tour of Europe; this the Danish stop of that trek.

All photos by Peter Troest

Deathcrush

In charge of initiating the proceedings tonight - and the first in an allotment of odd choice support bands - are Oslo, Norway based Deathcrush; a trio consisting of guitarist Linn Nystadnes, bassist Åse Bredeli Røyset, and drummer Vidar Evensen (the lone possessor of testosterone in the outfit). What the stylistic direction of their music is, is difficult to pinpoint, with avant-garde metal (à la their compatriots Årabrot), noise rock and post-punk all mingling to generate a sound heavy on the low end, and with few moments of memorabilia to latch onto. There is a cool vocal interchange between the two frontwomen in the third song, the ladies singing different bits in between each other's breaths, and in line with Evensen's percussion; but bar the inevitable raise in rating brought on by stepping off stage and touching the reviewer's stomach provocatively (that would be Ms. Nystadnes attempting to homewreck my shit), Deathcrush's music is not of the sort to awaken a particularly strong sensation in me. Mind you, the girls are excellent performers, having all the semblance of marionettes as they sway their bodies and limbs in a seductive manner in keeping with the music, which in turn transforms into an oddly charming thing despite its noisy, dissonant and chaotic nature. Really, the only aspect still missing from Deathcrush's sound seems to be something to remember their songs by; as the evening's headliners have proven time and time again, injecting pop sensibilities into your music does not equate automatically to sacrificing all edge and extremity.

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Maybeshewill

Next to elicit a response are Leicester, UK born instrumental post-rockers Maybeshewill, whose beautiful, ethereal music is, for all intents and purposes, the polar opposite of The Dillinger Escape Plan, and as such a curious lull before the storm. They begin in strong fashion, delivering their characteristic escalation like very passionate looking gentlemen, lost in their own world and pausing only to offer concise, politely spoken and humble gratitude to the audience in between their songs. But despite the fact that Maybeshewill's music ticks all the right post-rock boxes (cinematic, evocative, entrancing), they all rely on an exclusive formula, which grows tiresome after a succession of three or four such tracks: the songs begin cleanly, in tranquillity, and then gradually grow louder, heavier and more textured until a crescendo catapults them into that customary moment of grandeur. The music, by virtue of its uplifting tone, is quite similar to what Rinoa might have sounded like had they omitted their hardcore and metal influences, and as such, I find plenty of rewards in it. Having said that however, such music, for me, is best experienced on record - especially, as is the case here, when the band responsible have no visuals to accentuate the dreamlike nature of the music.

6

The Dillinger Escape Plan

When I first experienced the spectacle that is a Dillinger Escape Plan show at the now defunct Mean Fiddler in London, UK back in 2008, it was a life-changing event; the kind of concert that ignited my insatiable lust for watching live music as often as I can. I still remember it as one of the best concerts of my life; a perfect ten show balancing between sheer power and intensity, jaw-dropping musicianship, and physical destruction. I am actually in the midst of telling Revolution Music's Sebastian Bach about it when the lights dim, and that very same ominous rumble begins emanating from the PA, coupled with the very same projections of a hypnotism ending in the words: "I'm going to pry your eyelids open".

This is an apt preamble to a Dillinger Escape Plan concert: you keep your eyes peeled because what unfolds before you from then on is stuff of the absolute highest calibre. This band is so unpredictable that even now, having long since become a less destructive band, they still come with a guarantee that you'll never have seen anything like this. Tonight, Pumpehuset's lighting system has been turned off to facilitate The Dillinger Escape Plan's own setup: five voluptuously bright strobe rigs behind them. It's a system that works exceptionally well with music as cacophonous, schizophrenic and mechanical as "Prancer", "Farewell, Mona Lisa" and "Panasonic Youth" (all aired at the beginning of the set), heightening the level of intensity and the constant sense of threat that the band hope to convey.

The Dillinger Escape Plan have been experimenting with avant-garde metal for some time now, so tonight's concert strikes a fine balance between the psychotic ("Room Full of Eyes", "Fix Your Face", "Crossburner" et al.) - which drive the audience into a moshing frenzy and, during the former, guitarist Ben Weinman to deliver half of the song standing on the audience; the deviant ("Milk Lizard", "Black Bubblegum" and the Aphex Twin cover "Come to Daddy"); and the progressive and monolithic ("Gold Teeth on a Bum", "Nothing's Funny" and "One of Us is the Killer") - which have virtually everyone singing along in loud ecstasy.

Despite not coming across as quite as unhinged as in 2008 (that year I also distinctly recall an unfortunate festival goer next to me at Roskilde Festival being knocked out by vocalist Greg Pusciato's knee-dive during the first song), The Dillinger Escape Plan are still in a league of their own when it comes to their demeanour, with Pusciato, Weinman and bassist Liam Wilson in particular expending so much energy it's hard to breathe at times (not to mention move my neck in any way the following morning). Amidst the flickering strobe lights, their violent movement looks stunning, giving them all the semblance of some dark, twitching, de-personified figures threatening to leap off stage and kill us any second. And while "Sunshine the Werewolf" no longer results in the systematic and frenetic dismantlement of everything on stage (although Weinman does slam his guitar into a cymbal and makes it tumble during that song), The Dillinger Escape Plan still expose themselves as an absolutely enthralling live act; their performance now instead marked by its relentless intensity and constant expenditure of energy.

Setlist:

  • Prancer
  • Farewell, Mona Lisa
  • Milk Lizard
  • Panasonic Youth
  • Room Full of Eyes
  • Black Bubblegum
  • Fix Your Face
  • Gold Teeth on a Bum
  • Hero of the Soviet Union
  • Nothing's Funny
  • One of Us is the Killer
  • Crossburner
  • Dead as History
  • Good Neighbor
  • When I Lost My Bet

--Encore--

  • Come to Daddy (Aphex Twin cover)
  • Sunshine the Werewolf
  • 43% Burnt

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