Despite operating in the comparatively niche field of mathcore, New Jersey five piece The Dillinger Escape Plan have drawn a heaving crowd to the Great Hall of Cardiff University (a venue comparable in size to the Academy in Dublin) on one of nine UK dates on their European tour. They have been touring the US and Europe almost non-stop since April in support of their fifth studio album One Of Us Is The Killer. Disappointingly, the extensive European tour did not include a stop in Ireland this time around, despite a popular performance in the Academy in 2011. So it’s across the water that State has to head to catch their legendary live show.
After showing a lukewarm reception for support act English instrumental noise-rock group Three Trapped Tigers, the audience prepare themselves for the imminent aural onslaught and notoriously intense and often violent performance about to be unleashed upon the stage. As the house lights dim, four screens arranged either side of the drum kit display clips from black & white horror movies and other disturbing imagery. The band stride onstage, launching the assault with ‘Prancer’, the opening track from the new album, and triggering the crowd into a sweaty frenzy that seldom eases for the duration of the show.
Like hyperactive, sugar-fueled schoolboys, lead vocalist Greg Puciato and guitarist Ben Weinman charge around the stage, climbing atop speaker stacks, road cases and bass drum as if searching for the perfect podium from which to perform. In 2002, Puciato made headlines by defecating onstage at the Reading festival, putting it into a bag, throwing it into the crowd, and comparing the contents of the bag to the majority of the acts on the festival line-up. Behaving less controversially tonight, he occasionally climbs offstage and leans into the crowd to exchange energy, beer and sweat with the front rows of his zealous fans. Guitarist Ben Weinman goes one step further by climbing *onto* their fans and crowd-walking several metres upright; his full weight and guitar supported by just the hands of the fervent fans beneath him as he continues to riff. An impressive feat, to say the least. Meanwhile, Puciato screams the lyrics with the microphone held in his mouth, hands-free; another frequent party piece from the audacious frontman.
As well as more than half of the songs from the new album, they play plenty of favourites such as ‘Farewell, Mona Lisa’, ‘Black Bubblegum’ and ‘Gold Teeth On A Bum’. The performance is tight and the volume is deafeningly loud, but well balanced. For an encore, we are treated to ‘Come To Daddy’, a cover of the sinister Aphex Twin single, and ‘43% Burnt’ from their 1999 debut album, bringing the music to a scorching end.
As the band grind out the final notes and chords, Weinman swings his guitar around his head by the strap while menacingly approaching a nervous looking Puciato, before flinging the guitar into the drum kit. A brief thank you to the fans, and they leave the stage as quickly as they arrived. Hopefully they will remember to include Ireland next time around.
Photo: Olga Kuzmenko – see more here