Disclaimer: This Means Nothing to The Dillinger Escape Plan
The first time I saw The Dillinger Escape Plan play live was during Nine Inch Nails‘ set at Bonnaroo, June 2009. If you’re going to share the stage with Nine Inch Nails, you need to know how to make people lose their shit. That doesn’t mean jumping around maniacally and screaming, merely to put on a show. While they do tear around the stage violently, The Dillinger Escape Plan knows that in order to make people “lose their shit,” you need to genuinely connect with them. It doesn’t matter how much the band moves if they can’t move the crowd.
The next time I saw The Dillinger Escape Plan was during Nine Inch Nails’ final show, September 10, 2009, at The Wiltern. Here’s the brilliance of The Dillinger Escape Plan: I remember them from those two shows and made it a priority to see them again. I hadn’t experienced the band previously, I had no vested interest in them, I wasn’t a “fan”. They more than held their own on stage with NIN. The Dillinger Escape Plan added something to those shows. Nine Inch Nails is arguably one of the best live bands ever. It takes a lot to be additive to a Nine Inch Nails show, especially the final Nine Inch Nails shows.
2 years and hundreds of live show experiences later, I found myself at The Wiltern, once again seeing The Dillinger Escape Plan. This time, it was their set; they were playing their songs. They didn’t have to win over potentially skeptical NIN fans. They were playing to their fans and those of Mastodon, the band they were opening for.
The Dillinger Escape Plan gives you more than your money’s worth. You feel rewarded for buying the ticket, paying the exorbitant 60% service fees per ticket, standing in line, paying $5 for a 50-cent bottle of water. Even if you don’t like their music, what The Dillinger Escape Plan does from start to finish is make people lose their shit. There’s no ramp up to the show. They come out full force and do not stop until they leave the stage. Their entire set is performed at the energetic level of an encore. At the end of the show, feeling like the band “paid” me, I bought a sweatshirt. That’s what you want – as an artist and a fan. The money, sure, but getting people to give a shit and therefore getting them to DO something – that’s the real pay off.
The Dillinger Escape Plan is raw. Real. Authentic. In the moment. Rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking on the edge of cliffs – all things I’ve done – force you to be present. When you’re truly experiencing life on the edge, anything other than what’s right in front of you disappears. You are fully immersed in what’s happening, to the point where “beginning” and “end” dissipate. The only remaining setting is “ON!” That’s how The Dillinger Escape Plan plays.
Access to the pit at The Wiltern is generally GA, first-come, first-serve. You exchange your ticket for a wristband and you’re in. Once the pit hits capacity, you can stand on any one of several tiered levels (assuming you have a floor ticket). The first tier crowd, above the pit, was going insane. ”How come you guys aren’t down here?” Greg Puciato asked them. ”Because of the tickets you have?? That’s ok, I’ll come to you.”
The Dillinger Escape Plan knows how to express their appreciation to their fans. Yes, it includes jumping over walls, walking on heads, and screaming in the faces of fans, but that’s what they came for. And when the fans couldn’t get close enough, the band came to them. ”I would stay out there the whole time – I just can’t do it,” Puciato added as he jumped off the hands and shoulders of fans, over the wheelchair access ramp and wall dividing the pit, returning to the stage. When you see the videos below, you’ll understand why it’s not sustainable to play the entire show, balancing on a ledge, crowd surfing, and head walking.
That said, if they weren’t climbing in the crowd, they were scaling the amps or somehow levitating above it all. As ticket sales across the board continue to decline, it’s bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan who will endure. They know how to connect with their fans. They know how to make people lose their shit.
All day today I was under the impression that it was Saturday. A text message from a friend confirming our dinner plans tonight was my first indication that today was indeed Sunday. Another friend reminded me that next weekend is the Academy Awards. The sum total of what this means to me is that February is over already.
I feel like I’m in some parallel universe, where the relationship with time is much more dynamic, much less linear. As I play around in this sphere, the question that often arises is “what happened?” Not because I’m concerned, but because I like it here.
In the midst of this, my phone rang. “How are you?” the familiar voice on the other end asked. “I’m listening to Radiohead,” I replied.
And that’s the answer. That’s what happened.
Radiohead’s latest album The King of Limbs came out Friday, following an announcement just a few days prior that the album would be available for download on Saturday. I’m on Radiohead time.
I’m not going to write about the album because I like people to have the space to form their own opinions about music and because I don’t want to limit it with something as concrete as words. Listen to it a few times. Get lost in it. Or run away from it. Whatever it moves you to do – move and do it.
Which leads us to the video for “Lotus Flower” that was released Friday morning (US time), just prior to the album becoming available. The video racked up a substantial number of “plays” and accolades early in the day. My first thought was, “wow… look how Lotus Flower has evolved.”
I was thinking back to October 2, 2009, the first time Lotus Flower was played live for an audience. Thom debuted the song during a “secret show” to unveil his new band, “??????“. ?????? soon became known as “The Thom Yorke band,” and by “known” I mean: people didn’t have the attention span to say “question mark question mark question mark question mark question mark question mark” and needed something more tangible. On March 1, 2010, Thom Yorke declared ?????? had been named “Atoms For Peace.” As time is dynamic, so is Thom Yorke, Radiohead, and the music they compose. Even the older albums feel to me like they evolve upon each new listen.
I managed to capture quite a lot of video during that first show, in October 2009, much to the dismay of some self-declared “traditional journalists” who felt they’d been scooped “by some bloggers.” That’s the challenge isn’t it? They’re behind. We’re living in different times now, to the rhythm of instant gratification. The real, immediate, news is reported on Twitter, the “Nightly News” is simply a recap of the history of that day.
So here’s the “Nightly News” video recap of “Lotus Flower” – the first single off The King of Limbs:
“Lotus Flower” performed for the first time, at The Echoplex, October 2, 2009:
In the spirit of the event, Web In Front has also listed several places you can donate money to provide further relief to Haiti. Radiohead’s benefit concert in Los Angeles on January 24th raised $572,754 for Oxfam’s Haiti Relief Fund.
January 20, 2010
Haitian Relief Benefit
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Thom Yorke after a solid DJ set
There are many things I love about LA. One of them the weather (although a traffic nightmare this week), the ability to surf and then ski all in the same day, and last-minute benefit concerts featuring Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, Gaz Coombes & Danny Goffey (Supergrass and The Hot Rats). Yes, Maroon 5 was there too, as were a slew of celebrities.
The reason for this impromptu gathering of creative sound purveyors was to raise money to provide additional relief to Haiti. The night offered the utmost gratifying experience as we simultaneously danced and generated funds for the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.
Maroon 5 played in the front room (aka the hotel lobby converted into a private space), while Yorke, Godrich, Coombes, and Goffey spun tunes in the bar. The DJ sets were a diverse blend of soulful classics, dubstep, hip hop, and hard hitting dance tracks. I spent the entire evening in the back room (aka Teddy’s) dancing, while overhearing occasional reports from the front room.
Two tips for next time, and then off to bed:
1. Thom Yorke is not a wedding DJ. Don’t go up and request songs – he knows music (dare I say) better than you
2. If you can’t find the bar, it’s time to stop drinking. Yes, toward the end of the night a woman actually walked up to the DJ booth, cash in hand, to order a drink. She was very disappointed to see her “bartender” replaced by Thom Yorke.
Only in Hollywood…
Many thanks to everybody who made the night what it was and for your contributions to providing relief in Haiti.
Although I attended each of the Nine Inch Nails club shows during the Los Angeles leg of the “Wave Goodbye” tour, I did not go to their show at Webster Hall in New York. Nine Inch Nails’ performance at Webster Hall was unique because they played The Downward Spiral in its entirety, start to finish. Thankfully, I was able to experience The Downward Spiral when NIN repeated that set during their show at the Hollywood Palladium the following week.
However, as every live music fan knows, even if the set list is the same night to night, each show takes on a life of its own. That’s, in part, why fans follow tours around the world. It’s why people read message boards, blogs and reviews as a tour progresses – to get a sense of what happened differently that night; to find out what they missed or to relive the show again.
One of the many reasons I admire Nine Inch Nails is that they allow their fans to truly engage with their music. They maintain an open camera and recording policy, as well as provide raw footage and audio tracks so fans can create and share their own remixes.
This One Is On Us, a project headed up by a Nine Inch Nails fan, recently compiled and released a DVD of Nine Inch Nails’ performance of The Downward Spiral at Webster Hall. So what? Well, the DVD is comprised entirely of fan recorded footage from the show, shot from multiple angles and it’s available (in several formats) free of charge. Several sources were used in the making of this DVD which gives viewers the ability to experience the show from various perspectives.