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The Dillinger Escape Plan live at Boston, MA’s Paradise Rock Club

The Dillinger Escape Plan at Paradise Rock Club
Photos and words by Ben Stas

The reputation of New Jersey mathcore vets The Dillinger Escape Plan precedes them. Fan or not, most anyone versed in extreme music can tell you of the band’s notoriously chaotic and injury-prone live shows. Fire-breathing, head-walking, destroyed gear; there’s no shortage of documentation of the band’s insane antics over the years. But despite that defining penchant for recklessness and the tumult of numerous lineup changes, Dillinger have still managed to soldier on for nearly 20 years (with guitarist Ben Weinman the last founder standing). As their second decade together draws to a close, the band announced earlier this year that it would also be their last. This fall’s North American farewell tour offered fans one final chance to experience Dillinger in all their manic glory.

At November 16’s Boston date, a barrage of supporting acts greeted a crowd that jammed the club to capacity long before the headliners arrived to decimate it. The baroque but muscular art-pop of Boston natives Bent Knee made them the odd band out on this lineup, but their enthusiastic and well-received set was perhaps the strongest of the four openers. Salt Lake City’s Cult Leader trafficked in agreeably ominous atmosphere and relentless sludge-core, while the proggy pummeling of Long Island’s Car Bomb failed to leave much of an impression. O’Brother, hailing from Atlanta, combined strains of post-metal and melodic alt-rock into an enjoyable package.

While the string of support fittingly reflected many of the core elements of Dillinger’s multifaceted sound, four opening bands on a Wednesday did feel like overkill. It might even have spelled exhaustion or disinterest by the time the headliners arrived, if the headliners were any band other than this one.

“DILL-IN-GER” chants rang out as the band strutted on stage and proceeded to jolt any sense of calm from the room. Though there was no fire involved and no significant property damage to speak of, the acrobatic physicality of the performance from the first note onward still astonished. The entire band appeared to be in constant unpredictable motion, with Weinman and vocalist Greg Puciato flinging themselves into the crowd without warning on multiple occasions. Strobe lights lining the stage visualized Dillinger’s music at its knottiest by taking the room from pitch-black to blinding bright at erratic intervals. That they manage to sound utterly air-tight amid all that demonstrates what an instrumental powerhouse this band really is.

These final shows serve as both a goodbye and a tour for October’s final studio album Dissociation, so the setlist appropriately split the difference between the new and old. Fresh songs including opener “Limerent Death” proved that this last LP absolutely stands up with the band’s best work, which we heard plenty of elsewhere in the set. Highlights from each of Dillinger’s six full-lengths were present and accounted for, and the crowd responded just as fervently to the recent songs as to the Calculating Infinity or Miss Machine cuts. The frantic opening strums of One of Us is the Killer single “Prancer” received one of the biggest cheers of the night.

Watching the band run through these immensely technical songs while commanding a room like they do is truly something remarkable. They make it look effortless. Weinman has stated a desire to “go out on top” factoring into the decision to end the band now, and a show like this depicts precisely how going out on top is done.

Bent Knee

Cult Leader

Car Bomb


The Dillinger Escape Plan

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