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The Dillinger Escape Plan + Ho99o9 @ O2 Institute, Birmingham – Sunday 22 January 2017

The greatest of escapes…

Witnessed by Jason Guest

I get to the venue moments after Primitive Weapons leave the stage. Bugger, think I. “They were great!” says a chum. Bollocks, think I. I’ll see them next time, I say to myself as I slice my palm and swear a blood oath. No I don’t. But I will see them next time. Beverage, think I…

A wedding dress topped with a ski-mask and thick dreadlocks protruding from it walks on to the stage. Funny, think I, I don’t remember a hen-do being advertised as part of this evening’s entertainment. And before one may congratulate oneself on such a witty one-liner, the drums kick in at death-metal-miles-per-hour, distorted and contorted bass-tones emerge from somewhere, and the wedding dress throws itself into a physical frenzy firing lyrical bullets into a stunned crowd.

Part way through the first salvo, another guy walks across the stage. Cargo pants, a V-neck, orange close-cropped hair. A roadie? Probably. Nope. V-neck off, Thrasher T-shirt on display, he grabs the second microphone, jumps into the crowd and starts the moshpit.

Nope. Crowd ain’t stunned no more.

While thrash beats, death beats, hip hop and funk beats, rectum-rumbling bass tones, ear-drum-decimating fuzzy warbles and metal riffs threaten to rupture the speakers and bring down the walls, the three manic figures dance a devilish dance and spew venom and bile and revolution into the sweat-stained, blood-boiling, suffocating air that slowly fills the room. And though the crowd think their moshpit is an ample display of their appreciation, the orange-Thrasher-vitriol is back in there explaining the rules of the pit, number three being “Get out of my way!”

Bloody hell, think I. That was 30-minutes of full-on What. The. Fuck. Just. Happened. Oh the Ho99o9


And so, unless you’ve been living in a cave in Uranus (yep, that’s the level of humour and writing you’re stuck with for this review) with your eyes closed and your fingers in your ears going “lalalalala” at the top of your voice and not using the internet (not sure of the quality of the signal out there) since August last year, you’ll know that The Dillinger Escape Plan have called it a day. Delivering another unbecredible album in the shape of Dissociation, they will shuffle of this mortal coil on a high. How fortuitous, think we in attendance, that the escape plan (aka tour) should take in Birmingham along its route.

And, think I, this is a good choice of venue. Last time they were in the Midlands, it was at the Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton (reviewed here). Another great venue yes, but with the ceiling much lower than this place, the band’s, shall we say, “aerial activities” were very much restricted with Weinman walking across the crowd only once (I know, pfft…) and Puciato punching the ceiling in frustration whilst perched between amp-top and ceiling-low instead of launching himself into the turbulence of the moshing crowd.

So, lights down for what looks like a full house and DEP walk on. Much cheering. No bullshitting. Straight into it with ‘Limerent Death’ we are thrown. ‘Panasonic Youth’ next, followed by ‘Symptom of Terminal Illness’, ‘When I Lost My Bet’ and ‘Sugar Coated Sour’. Ouch, think I. This pummelling our collective ear-drums have been given this far is going to leave a mark, think I. So, from the fast and furious to the catchy and the melodic with ‘Black Bubblegum’, DEP are as adept (yeah, I like that little rhyme too) on stage as on record. They always have been. Every time I’ve seen them. So no surprise there. And they deliver another tight and intense set. And no surprise there either.

Weinman is up on the amps and down at the front of the stage on top of a strategically-placed flight case in a blur of slammed, swung and played guitar beatings and batteries while very-bearded guitarist Kevin Antreassia brings the chaos stage right. Also-bearded bassist Wilson is the same, his four strings tickled and trounced as his head bangs and locks into the glitching grooves bashed out by drummer-extraordinaire Rymer. And Puciato is the calm and the storm at the centre of the bigger storm this mob creates. Marvellous, think I. As do the moshing crowd as they slam and surf and a few find their way over the barrier.

‘Surrogate’, ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’, ‘Milk Lizard’ and ‘Low Feels Blvd’ are ruthlessly delivered. And received. And then ‘One Of Us Is The Killer’ arrives, and we sing along wondering, well, if DEP must die, will we survive? No time because ‘Nothing To Forget’ and ‘Farewell Mona Lisa’ are upon us. A wall of feedback between songs and I think Puciato is saying something along the lines of “thank you” and goodbye” and that kind of stuff but can’t be sure. Pardon, say I. But he can’t hear me because they’re busy blasting out set closer ‘Prancer’. Fuck me, think I, that’s fucking heavy! Encore of course. Woohoo, say we. A lot. ‘Mouth of Ghosts’ brings the Latin rhythms and while Weinman plays jazz piano as beautifully as he does guitar (Bastard! think envious I), we dance the dance of lovers before DEP leave us with ‘43% Burnt’.

And that’s it. Done. Gone.

The plan worked.

Brilliantly.

They’ve left the building.

They’ve escaped.

They did it all their own way. They did it all themselves. All the way from their hardcore beginnings in punk clubs through to stage-shitting festival shows. Fuck everyone. This is how a band does it. No bullshit. No frills. All fire. All intensity. All until the very end.

They’ll be back. Won’t they?

I’m not crying. I’ve just got something in my eye…

 

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