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Live Report: The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Penultimate Performance

(I missed Daughters’ opening set due to a lack of hustle and the frigid, long walk from the subway to Terminal 5. If this is upsets you, you’d probably be much more upset by my less than favorable opinion on Daughters’ music.)

In the second night of their three-day farewell run at Terminal 5, The Dillinger Escape Plan did more than celebrate their two-decade long career; by drawing from an eclectic range of material, they proved how irreplaceable they are. Simply put, there will be another band quite like The Dillinger Escape Plan. Countless acts have done an admirable job of matching the high technical bar that this quintet set, but how many of them share the band’s utter clarity of vision?

It isn’t fair to hold Code Orange, who performed prior to The Dillinger Escape Plan, to this standard. Their music bares little resemblance to the main attraction. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, The Dillinger Escape Plan were making music which sounded like the future. Code Orange on the other hand, play a style that sounds like that era’s present, updated through a millennial filter. That is to say, Code Orange are more than new. Their mix of beatdown hardcore and alt-rock melody is hardly cutting edge in the grand scheme of things, but their charisma is fairly undeniable. For a generation which didn’t grow up around Helmet and Earth Crisis longsleeves, Code Orange probably sound fresh. Their heavier material still suffers from choppy pacing and underwritten transitions — this is mosh music for the Snapchat attention span. That said, their newest record Forever shows that they have an ear for moody hard rock melody, which in tandem with a massive marketing push from Roadrunner Records is likely to send them into the stratosphere soon. Code Orange’s greatest skill, however, is their ability to self-mythologize. “This one is for the kids,” singer and drummer Jami Morgan announced as they launched into their last number, “from the basements to Grammy’s!”

The Dillinger Escape Plan had little need to toot their own horn; their performance spoke for itself. Like the beginning of any undergrad essay, their set was a study in contrasts. The band felt no compulsion to solve the dichotomy of their sickly sweet pop songs and their blistering IDM-inspired assaults. Nor did they need to: the sold-out crowd was willing to embrace the totality of the band’s work without complaint, moshing heartily to “Sugar Coated Sour” and pogo-ing like Lollapazoolites during “Black Bubblegum.” More impressive was how comfortable the band was in both modes. Of course it’s difficult to overstate how good these musicians are, but even beyond technical skill they are phenomenal performers. Though singer Greg Puciato was saving his second balcony diving antics for the following night, his willingness to put his imposing body on the line was evident from the first note. Behind him, Ben Weinman, Liam Wilson, Kevin Antreassian, and Bill Rymer blitzed through material ranging from Calculating Infinity to the band’s final album Dissociation, accented by a light show that turned their contorted frames into a series of silhouettes.

As promised, the set featured a special guest in the form of Dimitri Minakakis, who in his own words was “the first singer of this shit show.” Despite having been out of the band for 15 years plus, Minakakis didn’t miss a beat, jumping right into a performance of the band’s Under the Running Board in its totality. One has to wonder how much review he had to do to regain his footing on some of the most ridiculous hardcore put to tape. Practice sessions or no, he fit right in, catching every twist and turn of the band’s ludicrous syncopation.

Although their set began with an announcement that they would never play “Prancer” again, by the end of the night that sense of finality had faded. This was not the end after all, there was still one more performance before the curtain fell for good. Even so, as the last notes of “43% Burnt” echoed off the walls of Terminal 5, I half expected Puciato to go full Jordan Belfort. I suppose there’s still time.

Invisible Oranges contributor Ben Stas attended the band’s final performance the next night. You can read his thoughts over at Brooklyn Vegan here.

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