Luckily I had heard rumors about this weeks ago, so it sat on my schedule as the crown jewel of Thursday’s wishlist.
Dillinger Escape Plan is one of the best live bands around. Unfortunately, I’ve only seen them once, but it is one of my top all time favorite shows. Other than that, the last time I saw them was on stage at the final Nine Inch Nails show.
I was whisked in the band entrance via Umlaut (thanks!) and was surprised to see a fairly empty outdoor stage. Jeez, maybe this thing is too secret. On closer inspection, I did not recognize any of the musicians setting things up on stage, and something seemed off. So I looked at twitter again, where I noticed that DEP had posted just 15 minutes ago about the secret show, and it said indoors stage. Whoops.
So we walked over to see a pretty sizable line to get in. We think there’s no way we are making it, wah wah. But we hang out just in case, and suddenly the line starts moving bit by bit. People are emerging from the indoors stage room soaked in sweat, red-faced, and looking like they are about to die. The door is operating at a one in, one out policy. But a lot of people must have expended themselves on whoever was on before, because they were bailing. And sure enough, we got right in. Not only that, but the room was not uncomfortably full or hot even.
We got tall Lone Stars in celebration. We were very excited. “Where shall we stand?” I say. “How about close to the exit”, says Umlaut. Fitting for a band with Escape Plan in the name.
It was cool because I could tell that the people in that room were mostly fans- it wasn’t some press exclusive thing as I had worried. So we all teemed in excitement together.
I used to spend a fair amount of time at Emo’s when I went to college here, so it meant a lot that the only show I was able to catch here at SXSW would be DEP. I knew I was standing were the band would come out, so I turned my head just as they trotted by. Greg is much shorter than you would think.
They got up there and just completely destroyed everything. The energy and danger that they exude is really something to be admired. Normally, I take my reaction to a band as my own personal thing and don’t push it on anyone else, but with DEP, it’s a band that I would force people to see and then potentially determine whether or not they could continue to be my friend by their reaction to it.
The crowd was going crazy, but we were mostly out of harm’s way, though there wasn’t anyone standing still in that room. I really admired the press up front for this- there wasn’t a barricade and they were filming and shooting under some dangerous conditions. There was one kid that kept jumping on stage so much that I thought he might be a new band member. I was going pretty crazy myself, well, about as crazy as I get at a show.
I was thinking back to how I got some bad bruises and a scar from my last DEP show, when something hits me enough to make me see some stars. It was a frisbee. A FUCKING FRISBEE! I got hit in the chin by a flying frisbee at DEP…one of those ‘clever’ giveaway things being handed out somewhere. I immediately touched my chin which felt hot, and it was wet and I thought for sure I was bleeding. The guy next to me where I had looked to see what hit me had that ‘are you ok?’ look on his face. So I looked at my hand- no blood. I turned around and asked Umlaut if I was bleeding- he said it was fine.
It’s not a DEP show unless HRC gets an injury. 4 days later and it is still swollen and bruised.
We were taken through some of the great songs, ‘Sugar Coated Sour’, ‘Fix Your Face’, ‘Milk Lizard’, ‘Lurch’, and the new track, ‘Farewell, Mona Lisa’. It sounded AWESOME- much better live than the streaming track I’d heard.
The guys were on fire as expected. It was great to see Ben Weinman up close- I think I have a burgeoning crush on him now….totally amazing. He can go from complete chaos to intense and kind of mellow in a headspinning way. He crawled on top of the speakers and worked on knocking them over several times, as well as used them as a launch pad, running up them Matrix style, while playing nonetheless. Greg was in everyone’s face as usual, in this kind of angry fit of mutual admiration. Liam Wilson will always be the he-kind-of-doesn’t-seem-to-fit-but-I-couldn’t-imagine-anyone-else-playing-bass guy. The other guitarist, Jeff Tuttle, at one point jumped off the stage and went through the crowd and played at the back of the room by the bar.
How these guys play every single show like this amazes me. You would think it was both the first and last time they’ve ever played when you see them.
At about a 40 minute set, they hopped off stage after high-fiving everyone around. I was so amped up at that point that I grabbed Liam and Ben as they walked by with an exuberant ‘YOU WERE AMAZING!’ shoulder squeeze.
I dunno man, this may have been the best thing I saw at SXSW.
Go buy their album, Option Paralysis that comes out on Tuesday, and catch them pretty much everywhere but SF in a club show before they join Warped Tour, where I’ll see ‘em but it’ll be a bit weird…..