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.
Henry Fonda Theater
NIN Wave Goodbye Tour, night 3
September 8, 2009
You give me the reason. . .
“Wait – wasn’t Sunday’s show at the Echoplex supposed to be the last one??” For those of you who haven’t been following the events surrounding the final four Nine Inch Nails shows, there were some. . . complications. After playing a brilliant show (although he was sick) at The Palladium on September 2nd, Trent had to reschedule the NIN shows at Henry Fonda Theater (capacity: 1,300) and The Wiltern (capacity: 2,200) because he was too ill to perform. Well, nobody’s complaining tonight!
I’ve been to A LOT of “best concerts ever”, but this may be the one that trumps them all.
Let’s start from the beginning: Attending these final Nine Inch Nails shows makes me feel like the luckiest person alive. It’s also like being on Survivor NIN. Here’s how it goes:
Line-up to pick up your tickets.
Make alliances in line.
Line-up to enter venue.
Eat dinner in line.
Hydrate. But not too much. You don’t want to have to leave during the show to go to the bathroom. Nor do you want to fight your way back to your spot after doing so.
Make more alliances in this second line.
Conspire with other fans to find the guy who’s buying up all the tour shirts and selling them on eBay.
If anybody asks what happened to that guy, everybody uses the “I don’t know – I was standing in line with all these guys” alibi.
Get strip searched on the way into the venue. They told me they were “looking for weapons. . . or jewelry”.
Try to figure out why they’re looking for jewelry.
Enter the venue and get in the merch line, hoping they don’t sell out of event shirts this time.
Look for the guy who’s been selling shirts on eBay. Somebody must have already taken care of him.
Grab a spot on the floor, surrounded by new friends and stand your ground for the next 5 hours
Get an amazing shoulder workout by holding the camera above your head for several hours
The only difference is – on Survivor you win a million dollars. Tonight we won the best performance we could have hoped for from Nine Inch Nails. Yes, I’d rather have that than the million dollars at this point.
NIN kicked off with “Head Like A Hole” and the crowd went nuts (I’ll post the video as soon as it’s done uploading). From that point forward the energy just continued to rise. The walls at the Fonda were shaking. From “Head Like A Hole” they went straight into “Terrible Lie” which is always a welcome song. Next, they played “Sin” which I had been not-so-secretly hoping to hear during these final shows. It’s one of my favorite NIN songs and it’s been a little while since I’ve seen them perform it live.
Wish there was something real. Wish there was something true.
Alright – I just took a brief time-out because I have A.D.D. and did a trend search on Twitter for #NIN. . . Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way. Everybody is talking about how this was “the best show ever.” And thanks to them for reminding me to tell you that the show was 3 hours. Solid. 2 encores. Guest appearances by Mike Garson (Bowie), Gary Numan (who needed no introduction this time), Eric Avery (Jane’s Addiction), Danny Lohner (NIN), Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan). They finally played “Atmosphere” (following a failed attempt due to technical difficulties at The Echoplex on Sunday).
I don’t ordinarily do this because there are plenty of places that post the setlist and there are so many other details that can be written about that illuminate the experience, but in this rare (and perhaps only) instance, here’s the setlist from tonight’s show:
Head like a hole
1. “Head Like A Hole”
2. “Terrible Lie”
4. “March Of The Pigs”
8. “I’m Afraid Of Americans”
10. “Head Down”
12. “Letting You”
14. “Gave Up”
16. “Just Like You Imagined” (Featuring Mike Garson)
17. “The Becoming” (Featuring Mike Garson)
18. “I Do Not Want This” (Featuring Mike Garson)
19. “Down In The Park” (Featuring Gary Numan)
20. “Metal” (Featuring Gary Numan)
21. “Cars” (Featuring Gary Numan and Eric Avery)
22. “Anthrax” (Gang of Four) (Featuring Gary Numan and Eric Avery)
23. “Heresy” (with Danny Lohner)
24. “Get Down Make Love” (Queen) (with Danny Lohner)
25. “Mr. Self Destruct” (Featuring Greg Puciato and Danny Lohner)
26. “Wish” (Featuring Greg Puciato and Danny Lohner)
27. “The Hand That Feeds”
28. “Atmosphere” (Joy Divison)
29. “Dead Souls” (Joy Division)
30. “The Day The World Went Away”
The band sounded great. Guitars and equipment were tossed in the air. Trent easily jumped 4 feet high and the crowd did the same. With this performance Trent and the band seemed to be saying a few things:
“Sorry we had to postpone the original show. But you see now, right? THIS is the show we wanted to give you and we couldn’t have done it while I was sick.”
“We really are leaving for a while. But before we do – we’re going to remind you that we’re one of the best live bands you’ll ever see.”
“I’m sweating more than you.”
I could go on and on, but you’d get sick of hearing me tell you how phenomenal this night was. So hear it from some other people – do a Twitter search for #NIN. I’m not the only one.