The Dillinger Escape Plan is the best live metal band, by a long shot. But the part of this story that’s about them is three paragraphs in if you want to skip ahead.
Those LA-based legends of modern metal, The Faceless, were the last opening band before The Plan. I’m not a big fan of their latest LP, Autotheism, but their new lineup of band members were all undisputed masters of their instruments. Seeing the new material performed without effort or flaw was a bit humbling for the musician in me.
The crowd was ready and waiting to rock hard for anything from The Faceless’ back catalogue, but we only got two tracks, “Legion of the Serpent” and “Xenochrist”. They were totally awesome, but everyone was obviously hoping for more of the classics. I settled for watching their drummer Alex Rudinger tear shit up. He’s the young new master of the genre; you should watch his YouTube videos if you’re tryin’ to learn something about drums.
Now, like I’ve said in the recent past, The Dillinger Escape Plan is the best live metal band, by a long shot. Their stage presence is a living, breathing beast of blood and fire that seeps into the audience. The remarkable vocals of frontman Greg Puciato help give form and feeling to music so savage and technical as to be nearly unintelligible.
Ace of Spades is a pretty big venue, but it wasn’t quite full on this night. Half the audience was pressed up to the stage, screaming and thrashing and salivating something fierce, while the rest watched in disturbed fascination from as far away as they could stand while still remaining in the building. It’s my opinion that a Dillinger show is only half complete unless you experience it in a sea of fans, the devotion of whom is undeniable… When Greg leaped into the crowd during a breakdown, then ran on heads and shoulders to get farther out, the crowd just moshed and screamed in fiery approval.
The Plan was touring to promote their new album One Of Us Is The Killer, but they seemed to share my feeling that it’s just not that good of an album; they consented to play only two songs off it, and then devoted the bulk of the set to the classics. The pleasant surprises came in the form of their more obscure song choices, most notably “Dead As History”: a well crafted break-up song that mixes the soaring vocals and heaviness of Faith No More with the strange, twitchy computer sampling of Aphex Twin.
The high point of the set was during “Sunshine The Werewolf”. The breakdown at the end of this song is one of the hugest things I’ve ever heard, and the singer timed the first note of it to match his daring leap from a 12-foot tower speaker, right into the crowd. Boom, biotch! This moment was all the more beautiful because there weren’t nearly enough courageous fans on the floor to catch him; everyone had to rush under the speaker to catch Greg in time, then everyone sang along: “Without my existence! You are! Nothing! You wilt!”