Words by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
It came as a massive shock and disappointment to many when The Dillinger Escape Plan unexpectedly announced that they were calling it a day. Why would a genre-defining band at a peak in its twenty-year career choose to quit while they’re ahead, one may ask? For that very reason. To do it on their own terms, and to go out on a high note. So when they announced their farewell tour of Europe, and typically omitted Ireland from the itinerary, we knew we had to make a visit to the UK to say goodbye.
We arrive at the Nottingham Rock City venue in time to see support act Ho99o9 (apparently pronounced “horror” if you are unsure, like me). Having never seen or heard these guys before I am intrigued to see a tall dreadlock-sporting guy (TheOGM) in what looks like a wedding dress take to the stage, shortly followed by another black guy (Eaddy) with tight dyed orange hair and dressed all in white. With just a drummer and occasional keyboards behind them, the duo erupts with a hyperactive hardcore hip-hop vocal delivery that both surprises and engages the steadily building audience. It’s an impressive show, although perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea. Eaddy climbs over the rail at one point and actively instigates a massive circle pit while continuing to perform.Even though Ho99o9 did their best to warm up the crowd, nothing can be done to warm up the icy venue itself. The air-conditioning is blasting freezing cold air down from the ceiling, making Rock City the coolest arena we have ever been in. Despite being thronged with punters by now, it really is uncomfortably cold as we wait for the main event. The crowd is abuzz with anticipation and we wonder how those holding the two-pint cups of beer are going to avoid spilling them when the inevitable chaos erupts.
Shortly after 8:30 pm, the house lights dim and massive cheers welcome the New Jersey quintet onto the stage. Vocalist Greg Puciato finishes his pint and throws the empty cup into the dense crowd as they kick off with ‘Limerent Death’, the opening track from their latest album Dissociation. Seizure-inducing strobes pierce the darkness as Puciato and founding guitarist Ben Weinman storm around the stage as they are renowned for doing. Weinman is immediately seen swinging his guitar around wildly and using speaker stacks and drum riser as podiums from which to leap mid-riff. Not content with the confines of the stage, both he and Puciato also frequent the barrier, leaning over and into the hysterical front rows. Fellow bandmates Liam Wilson and Kevin Antreassian are comparatively less animated, but still give it socks.
It’s fantastic to watch a successful and established band performing without any elaborate props, screens or special effects. Just the aforementioned strobe lights and the raw energy, adrenaline, and passion that comes part and parcel with The Dillinger Escape Plan. Spontaneity and impulsiveness rule over perfect replication or note accuracy. The high-octane set continues with ‘Panasonic Youth’ from their sophomore album Miss Machine before another new track ‘Symptom of Terminal Illness’. The new tracks are well received by the fans, but tracks from their penultimate album One of us is the Killer seem to get the biggest reaction from the majority of the audience, including ‘When I Lost my Bet’, ‘Prancer’ and the title track. Of course, older material is also welcomed and insane tracks like ‘Sugar Coated Sour’ and finale ‘43% Burnt’ from their debut album Calculating Infinity see some of the most turbulent mosh pits and crowd-surfing from the tireless fanatics on the floor. The setlist is nicely balanced between old and new material, as well as mixing intensely syncopated tracks with more accessible melodic material to cater to all tastes.
The Dillinger Escape Plan are simply in a league of their own and this show is a great last chance to see them at their finest. If you’ve never seen them live, make sure to catch them this year, because it’s your last chance. If you’ve seen them before, then go again. You’d only regret missing out.