Review by Jason Guest; Photos by Lisa Billingham
Despite the décor in the Slade Rooms getting cheesier week-by-week (cut-outs of guitars on the wall; really?), they get some great bands in. Midlands music fans and Midlands Rocks have had the privilege of seeing a host of bands at this venue that have been of the highest quality and tonight was no different.
London’s instrumental noise-rock trio Three Trapped Tigers came as a surprise to the vast majority of the crowd tonight. With electronic equipment and keyboards piled high either side of the stage and a drum kit backed against the wall, what we expected of them was a far cry from what they delivered. Well-fed on Warp Records’ back catalogue, the noise they make is astounding and more than makes up for their humble stage presence. While they may not be as visual on stage as their moniker suggests, musically, they are heavy with a capital “Shit! That’s heavy!” What we get is some seriously powerful and densely-layered electronica laced with low-end dirty riffs and incredible drumming from Adam Betts. To watch this guy is to witness the sublime. Humbled by the much-deserved applause that increases after every track, Three Trapped Tigers win over an unsuspecting and perhaps unlikely audience. Check them out. Now.
To go to a gig by The Dillinger Escape Plan is to know that you’re not safe. If it’s not the pit that quickly erupts at their shows that gets you, it’ll be either Greg Puciato or Ben Weinman slamming themselves into the crowd. Even Lisa Billingham, MR’s photographer, thought she was safe on the stage-side of the barrier but found herself subject to a wave of bodies cascading down upon her. Opening with ‘Prancer’, the lead track from their latest album, One Of Us Is The Killer, Puciato is quick to make his way atop the speakers stage left only to find that the ceiling in this place is too low. His fist slammed against the ceiling says it all: DEP are giants in a small house. But despite the venue’s physical limits, DEP are as volatile as they always are and from ‘Prancer’ through to ‘When I Lost My Bet’, the intensity level is at its zenith, both on stage and off.
With a set list drawing more from the Puciato-era material and with a healthy dose of tracks from …Killer, DEP deliver without pause or hesitation. From the off, the Slade Rooms’ diminutive stage is a blur of violent activity, Weinman and Puciato battling it out for the award of most ferocious performance. Bearded and bedraggled, Liam Wilson is a headbanging beast clawing out byzantine bass lines while new guitarist James Love (who recently took over from Jeff Tuttle and also played with the band between 2004 and 2006) anchors himself stage right in head-down intensity. And to prove that tonight is surely the night of demon drummers, Billy Rymer sits against the back wall and bashes out his complex rhythms with a cool concentration and an unshakeable power.
After a beating of one hour, we get a break – if you can call a wall of feedback resonating in the near-darkness a break – and DEP are back to give us another bruising. Introducing it as ‘Hammer-Smashed Face’, their version of the Aphex Twin track, ‘Come To Daddy’ is ridiculously close the original. I mean, Aphex Twin is certifiable, and to attempt to cover one of his tracks, you’d have to be a few knobs shy of a mixing desk, but DEP did it with Mike Patton, and they can do it live. Only closer ‘43% Burnt’ can blow it out of the water.
Having seen DEP in a number venues, it’s apparent that the Slade Rooms isn’t big enough to contain these guys or their audience. The lights and the projector hanging just in front of the stage get many a kicking from the many bodies that spill over the barrier into the cradling arms of the security guy (he earned his keep this evening). When Weinman takes a walk across the crowd – yes, across – and slowly falls back on to them to surf back to the stage – all without dropping a single note! – the chandeliers are in the way and stop him going any further. And at previous gigs, Puciato has spent a considerable amount of time in and on top of the crowd. Not so tonight. But even though I doubt we’ll see them at this particular venue in the future, their show was as intense as they have always been. If you’re wondering who the killer is in the title of their latest album, it’s The Dillinger Escape Plan, no question.
Farewell, Mona Lisa
Room Full of Eyes
Fix Your Face
Gold Teeth on a Bum
Hero of the Soviet Union
One of Us Is the Killer
Dead as History
When I Lost My Bet
Come to Daddy (Aphex Twin cover)
And you can see more of Lisa’s photos by clicking play below: