Tuesday, July 23, 2013

So How Was Dillinger's Set at Summer Slaughter?

Shortly before DEP took the stage last Saturday as the headliners at Summer Slaughter I was talking to the guys in local LA band Vishuda, who I met earlier in the evening. Nice bunch'a guys. We talked music between a couple of the sets. They invited me to their gig the next night at Sunset HOB's Voodoo Lounge, but unfortunately as I often regret to have to intone, I wake up at 4:30 in the morning so shows on any night but Friday or Saturday are just not a possibility (hence why I've missed everyone from Nick Cave to Savages this year so far. Well no, the Nick Cave was because the show was $130 a ticket - a price we found ONLY applied to the LA. Wouldn't pay that for Jesus to hand me free redemption. I LOVE everything Mr. Cave does, but no way... but I digress. I'm half asleep...).

ANYWAY, the Vishuda guys had not had the pleasure of having seen Dillinger live. As the strobe lights began to run test sequences and the lights crept slowly into darkness they noticed my sudden nervousness and asked me what to expect. I expressed my apprehension for standing where we were, so close to the stage, shook their hands and made my way to a little spot three or so steps off the floor. Why?

The first time I saw Dillinger Escape Plan was in '99 at the Chicago Metro. It was the first leg of Mr. Bungle's California tour - my friends and I saw them three times that year - and while standing pretty much right in front of the stage, not having ever heard of the Dillinger Escape Plan before, suddenly the room went pitch black, the strobes started and the... things that took the stage  - which of course I later learned were insanely talented and death-defying individuals - in that looked like demons. I mean, I was literally fucking terrified. The whirling frenzy of shapes that threw and spun their instruments around them like giant bipedal spiders looked like they were coming off the stage to take us all to hell. Add to this the fact that, having never heard their epileptic, machine-gun vomiting sound before I was caught off guard sonically as well and you'll understand me when I say again that I was really, really afraid.

After the trauma from that show wore off and I adjusted to the musical style I became a Dillinger Escape Plan fan for life.

Fast forward to 2002. My friend Hawk (not the General) was the drummer for a band called Tub Ring at the time and they were opening for Dillinger at, once again, the Metro. Hawk invited me to roadie for the 'Ring so I could hang out backstage. It was awesome. By this time original Dillinger singer Dimitri Minakakis had left the group and been replaced by Greg Puciato. I got to meet Greg and a couple of the other guys briefly - Hawk and I were standing just off stage as they ran out and began to tear the place apart. At some point during the set we made our way up to the backstage balcony where Hawk and I subsequently had a bird's eye view (no pun intended) of a moment unlike any other I have ever seen at a live show. In the heat of the moment during the climax of a song (can't remember which one) guitarist Ben Weinman tore his guitar off his back, smashed it against the stage and then proceeded to hurl it into the crowd, where it hit some chick dead in the face!

Let me say that again and please understand me when I tell you, this is no exaggeration. Dead. In. The. Face.

My love affair with Dillinger Escape Plan deepened. I didn't like seeing someone get hurt, but the sheer chaos - there really is no other word - of a Dillinger Show is, in my opinion, something worth experiencing. But then again I haven't been hit in the face yet.

Two years later in 2004 I saw Dillinger again at the TINY Fireside Bowl in Chicago (RIP Fireside). It was August in the Midwest and as such well over one hundred degrees outside, so inside a tiny bowling alley/DIY venue... well, let's just settle on it was bloody hot! Because of this the Fireside's management had box fans set up on the stage to try and help alleviate the oppressively thick air that confronted the bands on the stage, really little more than a glorified riser (which is part of the reason the place was so damn awesome). The Bronx - another of my favorite bands - played before DEP and managed not to destroy anything regardless of how apeshit they went, but after Dillinger came out, within about two songs Puciato had demolished all of the fans and was whipping their shattered carcasses around the room. I'd not seen Dillinger since that Fireside show but three times is the charm, eh? As I said, I've learned to appreciate the complete insanity that occurs when this band plays, but I've also learned to stay an appropriately safe distance if I'm not currently in the mood to take chances. Well, Michael, the bass player for Vishuda took the above video. I don't know that anyone got hurt, but... well just JESUS! What else can I say? I've seen Mike Patton do something similar in an old Bungle video, but I'd never see this live and in person before.

Thanks to Michael from Vishuda for getting such great footage of this and I'm sure as his band has some tracks up on the old interweb I'll be posting them. Heavy and psychedelic with some prog thrown in for good measure, that's roughly how Vishuda described their sound to me last Saturday night. Definitely something I want to check out.

Yeah, I saw that live. From a safe distance.

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