I'm not sure how I wanted to separate in entries/words/pointless dribble about some of the last 48 hours of my life. Well, I worked hungover for about five of them and slept about four, but most of my time was spent seeing some of the most insane shit this year. The most insane was seeing The Dillinger Escape Plan demolish a crowd of about 300 people in the same place where hipsters tore down gates and were sprayed (ironically?) with pepper spray in the great riot of South by Bullshit 2011. So how crazy was it that in the midst of one of the countries biggest punk and hardcore festivals, everything went off without a policeman on horseback…
But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself here.
Cut to earlier Saturday evening, and I'm standing in one of the longest lines I've ever waited in to get into Austin Music Hall. The Deftones (skate punk somehow lumped into the nu-metal category) were about to headline a sold out crowd with Dillinger and the beautiful Le Butcherettes as openers.
"Swooning" is probably the correct word to describe my glare during Teresa Suaréz's (Teri Gender Bender) empowering set. It's like Janis Joplin pulled the devil from inside herself and formed the relentlessly barking front woman. Only backdropped to the chaos of drummer Gabe Serbian (The Locust) and bassist Jonathan Hischke, Le Butcherettes' set the mood for a very aggressive evening ahead. Even with all that instrumental skill, Teri's vocals still sit front and center and command the entire performance, even as she leaves the mic for the crowd, it's just as domineering in presence as it holds attention to the entire 1000+ attendees in the giant warehouse.
Climbing, jumping, swinging cabs around and enough strobe to kill an epileptic in a matter of seconds, the Dillinger Escape Plan didn't give a damn if it was a huge concert hall or a 500 cap room, they brought it. Now, that's only comparative to the band's second show that night. So, for more words on that, and not to flush out my feelings too soon here, we'll move on to the night's headliner.
There's been some talk over the past few weeks among the users and I about "lasting" or "holding up" over time. Bands will come and go (and even as overheard from some Chaos in Tejas patrons this weekend, sometimes reunions don't live up to the hype), but it's really just about grasping some sort of longevity. Even though the Deftones did gain notoriety during the era of nu-metal, there's a polar difference between the anticipation of last year's Diamond Eyes and this year's Gold Cobra. Deftones can still make deafening thrash rock that bridges the sonic gap between melodic crescendoing and heart racing thrill. The band's live show only expands on that sound. Unfortunately, I had to cut out before the end of the band's set, missing my favorite song by the guys. But I headed for Beauty Bar before things got too crazy over there for Dillinger's second show of the night.
Opening up for the Dillinger Escape Plan was Ceremony, who in 30 minutes made me feel like I was part of an archaic live '80s hardcore video. Bridging the lines between hardcore and glam, vocalist Ross Farrar is an absolute mad man for the entire set. Between climbing speakers, moving lighting as he sees fit, climbing over the barricaded fence for whatever reason and singing through his t-shirt half the time, it's quite an exhausting set to experience. For any fan of hardcore, Ceremony are more than worth checking out.
I can't imagine that Dillinger Escape Plan plays too many small cap venues anymore, but a tent that holds about 300 seems about par for the course of a good time, right? As soon as the band launched into it, attendees lost their shit with them. Not much was contained besides the "muscle" holding the monitors up from being pushed over. Vocalist Greg Puciato climbed everything he could find, holding on to the top of the tent (surprisingly not pulling it down) and stage diving off the main speakers. As there was practically no light besides green dim lit ones from the stage and flashes from the dozen or so cameras, it was a darkened scene of chaos, and was very refreshing. There were bloody faces and enough body heat and sweat to qualify a hardcore sauna of aggression and anguish. For one hour, it felt like 1999 again as the band lit one of their cabs on fire, Puciato standing over it and yelling into the flames before guitarist Ben Weinman put most of it out by smashing his guitar into it. I overheard bassist Liam Wilson apologize for all the kids that "probably got hurt." But you know what, that's the way it was, and the way things are beginning to sort of run again.
At some point, these bands broke out and began to play bigger venues with more rules. Less fun was had. In a sense, punk became safe for the masses. It started to become commercialized in the '80s when no-wave was packaged as pop new wave. It seems today, there's no room for a contemporary G.G. Allin or Iggy Pop. Sure, Bert McCracken puked on stage (and then probably again when he was dating Kelly Osbourne) and we all looked for a brief moment, but who really cares now? Anyone remember Artwork?
Most of you who I've offended with the last few statements probably know or don't know that one of the reasons Dillinger got big was because of their live shows, so the argument of "substance over show" is certainly debatable. But as the show continues to go on, The Dillinger Escape Plan don't even come close to losing substance in their writing (the band's last two records more than prove that alone). Yet, still the subjectivity for the argument of authenticity and gimmicks will probably start after reading this, but I assure you, it was a different time ten years ago and it was an incredibly different time 20 and 30 years ago. There was no money in this scene. To see a band like Dillinger Escape Plan (albeit only one original member left) still completely destroy one hour of my life is unforgettable. Sorry to say, I don't think that happens too much these days. There's too many rules and too many stunts that lack the reckless behavior of living in the moment.