The Dillinger Escape Plan
December 11 and 14, 2009
Looking at the spaces books for this tour, it is a bit puzzling to an outsider as to why bands of this caliber would want to waste their time in the smallest venues that they can get away with. To the rest of us, though, it makes perfect sense. The headlining bands on this tour, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Thursday, have always been about community and solidarity. Both bands started in basements and in light of that fact, it only seems fitting that they would do a tour of this size. There is something beautiful about having a bunch of stranger s and friends crammed in to a dirty rock club, singing their hearts out to their favourite song in the spirit of punk rock. Your favourite “punk” band or “hardcore” band wouldn’t do that.
From the first notes of both sets, The Dillinger Escape Plan set the crowd off and into a flurry of bodies. In true Dillinger style, it is more common to have more members of the band in the crowd and on the crowd than on stage. At the Mad Hatter in Covington, this certainly wasn’t the case, but in true basement form, there were more people on stage from the crowd than band members themselves. In Pittsburgh at Mr. Smalls three nights later, however, we saw a different story. The advantageous proximity of the stage, barricade, merch areas, and bar was not lost and we saw more people from stage off of the stage. The first song had not even hit the chorus when the band started flying off stage. In an attempt to make the club feel as small as possible, or so it seemed to the rest of the people there, the barricade only served as a footrest for Puciato as he made it a point to involve as many people as possible. He shoved microphones in faces and grabbed collars to bring people closer. Couldn’t quite reach the stage? Stick your hand out. The chances were pretty good that you’d be pulled closer. At the Mad Hatter, however, the crowd did all of his work for him as the clamoured and climbed and clawed their way to the front. The nature of that venue automatically lends itself to feel more like a basement show than Mr. Smalls. In turn, there was a completely different energy that ran throughout the duration of the set. It was fervent and urgent. It grabbed you by the throat. One of the highlights of both nights occurred at Mr. Smalls. Never one to be confined to the parameters of a stage proper, guitarist Jeff Tuttle scaled the speaker stack, leapt on stage, and not content with his high flying feats, ran a full speed towards the crowd, leapt over the barricade, climbed onto the bar and proceeded to play from the back of the house. During both sets, the band premiered Farewell, Mona Lisa off Option Paralysis. If that song is any indication as to how the rest of the record is going to sound, then 2010 is going to be a huge year for tDEP and one can fully anticipate the record topping many critics Best of 2010 lists. The song itself is discordant and extremely layered. There is so much going on that it’s hard to absorb all at once, but once you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Thursday are one of those bands that you either love or are indifferent to. Those who love the band REALLY love them, and those who don’t..well, don’t. Cincinnati is known for its love of hardcore and though guy bands. If you don’t fall into one of those categories, then it’s going to be an uphill battle to win over the crowd. At the Mad Hatter, this was sadly the case. After a nearly full house for the Dilinger Escape Plan, the venue started to clear out by a third to half the minute they stepped off stage. Perhaps this was for the best, because those who remained carried the set away from the band. This is not to say that they didn’t play their hearts out. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. They played like their lives depended on it. Leaning slightly heavily towards material from Common Existence, the band barreled through their set with gusto. At some point during their set, something weird happened. They stopped being a band and started letting loose. It was evident that they were having fun again. It was heartwarming to see them play because they wanted to and not because they needed to. On the other hand, the show in Pittsburgh was all theirs. With a full crowd already in place from Dillinger having played previously, everyone who had been hanging out at the bar filled in the empty spots and packed in as tightly as they could. From the beginning of For the Workforce (Drowning), to the end of the countdown in Jet Black New Year, the crowd crammed themselves against the barricade.
The only downside to this tour is that it is only fourteen shows long and that it only runs through the north east, a lone date in Virginia notwithstanding. This is the hardest working tour that you will have seen come through all year. You will not find a pair of bands on the road together who play with as much heart and soul as The Dillinger Escape Plan and Thursday. The tour concludes on December 19th in Cambridge, Massachusetts. These bands play together again on December 30th at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ
The Mad Hatter, Covington, KY: 11 December 2009
Mr Smalls Theatre, 14 December 2009: Pittsburgh, PA