Dillinger Escape Plan / Ho99o9 / Primitive Weapons [Live Review – Concorde2, Brighton, 26/1/2017]
Weeknight gigs are normally low-energy affairs. The crowd is usually set on saving its energy for Friday, that one long last push needed to get work done and dusted before the weekend. Then, come Friday and Saturday night, it’s time to go the fuck off and spend the rest of the weekend in recovery.
When The Dillinger Escape Plan are in town, it’s a different story – and when they have the likes of Primitive Weapons (92%) in tow…Jesus. Hailing from New York and clearly fired up by the response to their album The Future Of Death, Primitive Weapons corral together the likes of Deftones, Queens Of The Stone Age, and the evening’s headliners with an emphasis on monolithic grooves and heaving riffs. And. They. Were. Immense.
Setting a trend for the show as a whole, Ho99o9 (96%) raised the bar to a new level of otherworldly bizarro madness. Switching swiftly between balls-to-the-wall hardcore and in-your-face hip-hop and focussed on going out with a bang on their last night touring with Dillinger (as were Primitive Weapons), Ho99o9 completely laid waste to Concorde2. It’s oddly comforting to discover a band who remind me that I still haven’t seen or heard it all – and while Ho99o9 also put a lot of emphasis on the visual aspect of what they do, it never for a moment takes away from their musical skills.
Balance in instability.
On, then, to The Dillinger Escape Plan (300%). For every fan in the building, this set doubtless held a bittersweet taste beneath the heaping helpings of excitement and brutality. This was, after all, the last time Dillinger are presently set to grace the stage at Concorde2 after a long, mutually appreciative relationship with Brighton’s contingent of die-hard mathcore addicts.
Why 300%? Well, as I mentioned in my review of DEP’s on-record swan song Dissociation, you have to bear in mind that at this point, you’ve got to take into account how much The Dillinger Escape Plan have given over so many years. Having set the scene with some ten minutes of PA-pumping bass throbs, Dillinger promptly tore through the kind of onstage rampage that very nearly defies description.
Some bands need a couple of songs to warm up. Dillinger? Nope. From note, beat, and scream one of Prancer, DEP’s opening barrage felt like being literally pummelled by not so much “sound waves” as invisible sonic tsunamis.
It was the kind of experience that highlights something about music that is just so obvious, we take it for granted.
You can’t see the stuff.
It’s just vibrations in the air.
But fucking hell, look what can be done with that.
For the average musician, mastering even one Dillinger Escape Plan song can rightly be considered a serious achievement. At Concorde2, we got eighteen of them, ripped straight from the instruments and vocal cords of the guys who created that stuff in the first place, and defined and evolved an entire genre without stagnating or compromising possibly the most stringent standards in the history of music.
One of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s biggest achievements has to be their ability to coax intensely emotive singalong sections from the harshest, most technically intimidating environments. Dissociation key track Limerent Death got in there early, followed after Panasonic Youth by Symptom Of Terminal Illness – a disarmingly vulnerable statement about childhood trauma – and fan favourites Sugar Coated Sour and Black Bubblegum. By that point, the audience-band energy feedback loop essential in fuelling the greatest live shows was firmly in place, with barely a closed mouth in sight.
Beyond Surrogate and Hero Of The Soviet Union, Ire Works highlight Milk Lizard came into being. One of Dillinger’s most accessible songs brought the house down figuratively if not quite literally – and rightly so. For many fans, that song was their first introduction to The Dillinger Escape Plan, the invitingly catchy gateway into more hectic, ear-rending music – and seeing so many people do all they could to show how much Milk Lizard means to them was an awesome, awesome experience.
Time for Low Feels Blvd, complete with sophisticated jazz-fusion section; One Of Us Is The Killer (cue another mass singalong); Nothing To Forget (a key Dissociation cut, core hook “Please let me be by myself / I don’t need anything” plainly hitting a nerve for a large percentage of the attendant punters); and Farewell Mona Lisa forming a crushing double-whammy with Nothing To Forget, boasting as it does one of DEP’s most close-to-the-bone lyrics ever. Then Sunshine The Werewolf and stage abandonment, constant strobes and relentless feedback left behind until the encore.
A perfectly structured encore, at that. First off, a thoughtful breather in the form of the laid-back, latin-fusion-flavoured Mouth Of Ghosts. Secondly, the poised and seething Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants. And finally…
I still remember the first time I heard that song. I remember how it changed things forever – the way I listened to music, my appreciation for extreme music, the way I thought about the guitar and what was possible with six strings in standard tuning. And I remember realising that there was just no way I was the only person on the planet awakening to the same reality.
So, seeing The Dillinger Escape Plan bow out for the final time at Concorde2 was a fucking overwhelming experience. And was I alone? Hell no. Looking around the room, I could not see a single person unmoved in some way. 43% Burnt is and always will be DEP’s ultimate signature tune – and even with Dillinger parting ways and leaving behind the lingering question of whether or not they will ever return to melt faces en masse again, 43% Burnt is guaranteed to remain stuck in heads and repeated over headphones across the world for years, likely decades, to come.
Right now, though, as far as Brighton is concerned, it’s all over. It’s time for a new cast of characters to fill the void left in The Dillinger Escape Plan’s wake – not with carbon-copy clone music, but with the kind of songs punched out by the likes of Primitive Weapons and Ho99o9. There’s still room for expansion, still space for innovation, and out there right now are a whole bunch of fresh faces fired up and already ready to take on the world.
This show may have represented an end – but it is not the end.
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