A Very Special Thursday Christmas with The Casting Out, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and glassJAw – The Starland Ballroom, 30 December 2009

19 Oct


Thursday
glassJAw
The Dillinger Escape Plan
United Nations
The Casting Out
The Starland Ballroom
Sayreville, NJ
30 December 2009

…also known as, “who writes reviews of shows with footnotes, anyway?”

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It’s becoming a tradition every year for Thursday to play at least one show at the end of December at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, New Jersey. They’ve done it every year except 2008, where their holiday extravaganza was held in New Haven, Connecticut. Some years, they will play more than one show, but the last three years, it has just been one show. They always make it a point to bring the best and the brightest young talent with them or they take the opportunity to ask bands to play with them that they love and admire. This year, fortunately, was no different. Every year, they don’t think that they can out do themselves with guests, but every year, they manage to do just that. For the bill this year, they had bands from both sides. They brought Delaware’s The Casting Out, United Nations, local Jersey boys The Dillinger Escape Plan, and a little band from the Belmore-Merrick area of Long Island called glassJAw.

It’s interesting, the way these shows go. The lineup for the holiday shows usually includes some friends and some heroes. This year was no exception. Delaware’s the Casting Out were handpicked to open the show. But wait. Who are they? Where did they come from? The Casting Out is the brain child of Nathan Gray. While you may not know his name or his face, you know his voice. Former front man for .boysetsfire., also joining Thursday onstage for Understanding in a Car Crash at the New Year’s Eve 2007 Holiday show. Sounding like vintage Bouncing Souls, The Casting Out played like a hardcore band and sounded like a Jersey punk band. It’s an odd combination that saw Gray stretching awkwardly to get close to the crowd and then giving up entirely and leaping headlong into the fray. United Nations, on the other hand, probably shouldn’t exist. They’ve been banned, received cease and desist letters from, you know, THAT United Nations, and, among other things had about eight hundred thousand people play on their record. How does this even work? It does and it doesn’t. Thursday’s Geoff Rickly made his first appearance of the night, pulling double vocal duties. Midset, however, offered the highlight of the entire evening. Since the band hasn’t listed an “official” lineup, forcing people to go on rumours and heresay. As with any rumour, though, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. “Hey Geoff! Where’s Daryl [Palumbo, of glassJAw]? Why are you singing by yourself?” to which Geoff replied, “Well, Daryl’s not really that involved with the band anymore, because, you know, I know I’d rather hear another new glassJAw record than hear him play guitar on our record.” Mass cheering ensued.


The Dillinger Escape Plan, undoubtedly, turned in the set of the night. Caught in the awkward position of coming after United Nations but before glassJAw, they had nothing to lose, and everything to prove so they did what they always did and played their hearts out. Maybe it was because they were playing in front of an hometown crowd or maybe it was because they had just come off of having a couple of weeks off, but compared to the last tour, they were a new band. The secret, however, lies in the addition of Billy Rymer. He has single handedly reenergised this band like no other personnel change has been able to. For the Dillinger uninitiated, this was a beautiful first introduction to the band. Coming out to a minimally lit stage, it was really difficult to anticipate what was going to come next. Most of us had an idea, but no one was really prepared for the full on aural assault that took over the following forty minutes. The highlight of the set proper was Farewell, Mona Lisa[1]. Each time this is played and the more comfortable the band gets with playing the new material live, it gets more intense and it slowly taking on a life of its own. If this song is any indication as to how the rest of the record is going to unfold, then it will see both Puciato and the pushing themselves to their absolute limits.


While their time on stage is always very tightly controlled anarchy, no one could have predicted what would have happened if one were to cut their set short. To be honest, I don’t think that anyone had the moxy to try. Both the crowd and the venue found out, with nearly disastrous results. With one song left, crowd favourite 43% Burnt[2], things started as normal. Normal, that is, until the Starland Ballroom decided that the band was done with their set. The venue took the house lights down, put on the house music, and began to drop the screen. Puciato, not a man to take things lying down, was not about to take no as an answer, rejected being “thrown off stage”. A split second thought of “wtf is happening?” turned into a full on insurrection. The entire band, one by one save for Rymer, moved in front of the screen and continued playing. The venue retaliated by cutting the band’s power. Still undeterred, the band pressed on, playing through whatever they could. The venue fought back by turning the houselights off, but the band had played this song so many times that they could play it with their eyes closed. In a last ditch effort, the Starland blasted the house music, REM’s Losing My Religion as loud as they possibly could, to absolutely no avail. At this point, the venue was completely defenseless. With Puciato hanging off the screen[3], they had nothing else to do but raise it up and let the band finish. Relying on the crowd to carry them, the band barreled through the remainder of the song, finished, put their instruments down and walked off stage. There was a split second of silence before the house music turned off and then back on again. During their tenure on stage, one couldn’t help but invoke the lyrics of Rage Against the Machine, perhaps out of context, perhaps not. Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.. The general consensus lies in the words of a wry young fan standing at the soundboard with us. He said, “Dillinger Escape Plan, you would be awesome like that.” Do it live, indeed.


With a set like that, glassJAw had some pretty big shoes to fill. They have such a huge cult following, that they could have stood on stage, played a bunch of nonsense, and people would have flipped out. Luckily, they always turn in a solid set and last night was no exception. Daryl Palumbo’s voice was liquid as he melted and molded it around the notes. He was in high spirits all evening, suggesting, perhaps, that he has finally been restored to full health. The band is functioning as a cohesive unit again, and once they gain momentum, they’re unstoppable. When everything appeared to be going in eleven different directions at once, bassist Manuel Carrero held everything together, preventing things from dissolving into complete and total chaos. From the very first blast of You Think You’re John Fucking Lennon, the band was a high octane whirling dervish. Palumbo, feeling the need to not stand with two feet on terra firma, leapt and twisted and spun around the stage between verses, perhaps most evidenced on Mu Empire [4]. Even guitarist Justin Beck got in on the action, moving around significantly more than usual. The other relative oddity saw Palumbo being particularly chatty both with the crowd and with the band. Chalk it up to being close to home, but jokes were cracked and stories told and everyone was into it. It was refreshing to see, especially from a band whose fans have a penchant for taking everything that they do entirely too seriously. As far as the performance itself goes, this is the best that they’ve played in a long, long time. Palumbo was in complete control of his voice at all times. The high energy output from each band preceding them turned into an “anything you can play, I can play harder and faster”. It was good to see an unspoken, good natured attempt at one-upmanship.


What is there to say about a Thursday hometown holiday show that hasn’t already been said? There were unprecedentedly high hopes for this show, and it delivered on all fronts. Following glassJAw, to a normal band, would have been intimidating, but these guys took it with grace in stride like they always do. Instead of opening with the usual, they brought Autobiography of a Nation out of semi-retirement. That set the tone for the rest of the set. Battling illness and having to sing his second set of the night, vocalist Rickly pushed and battled and sang his heart out. Wisely choosing songs that have the best f the best of the sing a long parts, the band barreled through the material, some new, some old, and some that they hadn’t played in a very long time. Standing on the Edge of Summer, in particular, seems to be becoming a staple at the holiday shows. Faltering ever so slightly midset during At this Velocity, admittedly one of the most difficult songs in their repertoire and perhaps due to prevalent illness, the band picked themselves back up. Rule’s propulsive drumming proved to be just the thing to get back on track as Division St. quickly became Circuits of Fever. The band transitioned seamlessly into selections from Common Existence as if they had been playing them for years. This is very much a band that gets better with age. While most bands slow down, these guys do the opposite. Stalwarts Paris in Flames, Cross Out the Eyes, and Understanding in a Car Crash have only gotten faster and more intense over the years. Far and away, the best moment of the set was a stripped down version of Running from the Rain. Not often played live, it was a perfect change of pace to the evening. Despite being sick, the song allowed Rickly to showcase his vocal prowess. His voice resonated through the hall. It was almost as if the ambiance of the room, the quiet calm of the band, and the singularity of his voice itself was, in a way, telling us that everything was going to be ok. Judging by the hushed and respectful tone of the crowd, it was almost as if they believed them. Sometimes, that’s ok.

The Casting Out



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United Nations

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The Dillinger Escape Plan


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The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Setlist:

Good Neighbor
Panasonic Youth
Fix Your Face
Sugar Coated Sour
Milk Lizard
When Good Dogs Do Bad Things
Mouth of Ghosts
Sunshine the Werewolf
Farewell, Mona Lisa
43% Burnt

glassJAw

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glassJAw’s Setlist:

You Think You’re John Fucking Lennon
Tip Your Bartender
Mu Empire
Stars Above My Bed
Ape Dos Mil
Gillette Cavalcade of Sports
Pink Roses
Jesus Glue
Pretty Lush
Two Tabs of Mescaline
Siberian Kiss
Babe

Thursday

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Thursday’s Setlist


Autobiography of a Nation
Other Side of the Crash (over and out of control)
Paris in Flames
Understanding in a Car Crash
Counting 5-4-3-2-1
Running From the Rain
Resuscitation of a Dead Man
This Side of Brightness
At This Velocity
Division St.
Circuits of Fever
Standing on the Edge of Summer
Signals Over the Air
Cross Out the Eyes
Jet Black New Year
Tomorrow I’ll Be You
War All the Time

[1]:Farewell Mona Lisa live from the Canal Club in Richmond, VA


[2]: 43% Burnt being played over the house music. Kindly note the subtle irony as the Starland flashes a “For your safety, emercency exits are located in the following places” slide.


[3]:Just as soon as the Starland started to cut the band off, the guy standing at the soundboard next to me turned and looked at me and said “uh oh. That was a really bad idea.” The look on the sage manager’s face when Greg started pulling on the screen was priceless. It was a mixture of shock and horror and being completely appalled. As soon as he started leaning into the crowd, the stage manager got on radio and started shouting “LIFT THE SCREEN!! LIFT THE SCREEN!!!!”


[4]: Mu Empire at the Starland Ballroom

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