Bonnaroo

The Dillinger Escape Plan: Get Ready To Lose Your Shit

November 1, 2011
The Wiltern, Los Angeles

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.

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The 2nd Biggest Surprise: Metric and Phoenix at The Greek

I don’t remember what the 1st biggest surprise was, but I do remember the original title of this post: To Anyone Who Dreamed To Have a Life Without a Boss. . .

To find out why that was the original title, click “play” and watch the video below.

Or, if you prefer to play a game to figure out why that was going to be the title of this post, don’t click “play.”  Instead:

Jump below the video.
Read the rest of this post.
Guess why that might have been the original title.
Then come back here.
Push play.
And see if you’re right.

Don’t worry, it’s not a hard quiz.  It’s been psychologically proven that people like to feel smart (not sure why we needed a study to prove that one).  So if I can make you feel smart while you’re reading this, then chances are you’ll keep coming back to read my blog.  That’s also why those quizzes that play in movie theaters before the feature film are so easy.

But anyway, METRIC! I’d seen this band before – back in the days of one-syllable-bands-that-begin-with “The”: The Hives, The Vines, The Strokes, etc.  I’m pretty sure I saw Metric open for at least one of these bands.  And I’m pretty sure I thought they were alright.  But, at The Greek Theater, Metric held their own, so much so I thought perhaps maybe they were headlining. (This thought was exacerbated by the fact that we arrived late, which is easy to do when a show starts before sunset).  Judging by the audience’s reaction, we weren’t the only ones who thoroughly enjoyed Metric.  Here’s a bit of their performance:

Now, about Phoenix. . .  First of all, every good-looking person in LA was at this show.

Phoenix live at The Greek

Phoenix live at The Greek

Secondly, I definitely wasn’t supposed to have a camera in there. So, as you can imagine, getting this video was a challenge.  Right – nobody would want a great video to get out.  There are some people (NIN), venues (Hollywood Bowl) and promoters who understand that getting media out there is a GOOD thing.  And then there are others that think, “OH NO! What if somebody sees it and decides they like this band and must see them when they come through town next?”  Or “What if somebody thinks ‘Wow, The Greek looks like a beautiful venue and the sound is great.  I should go there sometime. . .’ ” Or “What if a music supervisor sees it and decides she needs the music for this year’s blockbuster film?” It’s not like I’m making money off this.  You are.  It’s good for you.  I promise.

Bonnaroo Ferris Wheel and Arcade

Bonnaroo Ferris Wheel and Arcade

So, Phoenix. . .  I first stumbled upon them live at Bonnaroo earlier this year. I was backstage before the band went on and just before the singer arrived.  His plane had been delayed, causing him to arrive at the festival grounds just 20 minutes prior to going on stage.  Until that moment, it was questionable whether the band would miss their slot entirely. Instead, band members jumped up and down and squealed (like school girls, but not annoying) when they were reunited. What followed describes something I haven’t seen in music for a little while — a band that actually LOVES each other.  These guys were genuinely excited to see each other, took a deep interest in the well-being of the others and could not wait to get onstage.  Perhaps a lot of bands feel this way and are just too cool to express it, but Phoenix didn’t hold anything back.  Just prior to going on-stage they huddled:

“Let’s make this the best show we’ve ever played!” one member exclaimed.

“Let’s make these people go NUTS!” called out another.

“Let’s have fun!”

And on and on until everybody had expressed himself and the entrance music kicked in.

“That’s us!” they cheered, and they all went running for the stage.

I had a press pass, and was allowed a camera. . .  but I was so mesmerized that I forgot to use it.

That was Bonnaroo, but something tells me that pre-show huddle was not a first.  It felt like a ritual, and one that pretty much guarantees a good show.  Phoenix gets themselves so amped that they have no choice but to have a great show.  And their fans – well, they’re going to have fun, like it or not.  Phoenix’s performance at The Greek was as enjoyable as ever.  The band member’s love for each other reaffirmed and the fans having the time of their lives. Phoenix’s performance is light and fun, yet seriously good.  The Greek is the perfect venue for a show like this.  Outside, warm air, perfect sound, relaxed security.

Just kidding about that last part.  Don’t want anyone to get in trouble.

Anyway, see for yourself:


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