Note: An edited version of this review appeared in Alternative Magazine Issue 09
I knew little or nothing about the support acts, so I was pleasantly surprised when first act Stolen Babies started up. Looking like members of a fairground/cabaret troupe that had stumbled onstage – all black and white clothes and makeup – and lead singer Dominque carrying on a small accordion, it was clear from the start that things were not exactly going to be “normal”. And so it proved, with a headspinning mix of metal, hardcore, cabaret and fuck-knows-what else. You want reference points? Think Mr Bungle providing backup to The Dresden Dolls, with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum providing assistance. All told, it was good fun: although with a slightly muddy sound I’d like to be able to hear them on CD at some point.
Between the Buried and Me
Live @ Corporation, Sheffield
12 February 2008
Second support Between the Buried and Me got a rapturous reception, and an even greater receptiononce they had finished. Word after seemed to suggest that they were fantastic, but I’m not sure I could see it. Well, technically I could – all of their output is astoundingly dense, technical hardcore/metal that switches direction almost constantly, the product of an astonishly tight band. The problem for me was that in amongst all the technical prowess, they seemed to have forgotten the tunes. I can’t remember a single part of the set as I come to write this: maybe I just didn’t “get it”?
No such problems for headliners The Dillinger Escape Plan, who were a whirlwind of energy onstage for 55 minutes. Opener Panasonic Youth was a blitzkreig of the senses – as the band tore through the track, with flashing lights pulsing through the masses of dry ice, it took a while to focus on what exactly was going on across the stage. When I could finally see, the band were all over the place, throwing shapes, leaping off themonitors, and in the case of vocalist Greg Puciato, hanging off the beam above the stage. It was tough enough keeping up, never mind getting photos.
The blistering pace didn’t let up, either, through an awesomely technical 43% Burnt, and the unrestrained fury of Fix Your Face (the latter particularly did a good job of reminding us that the new album Ire Works is hardly a case of “selling out”) – in fact the only pauses for breath were much later in the set. Perhaps surprisingly, there was a good mix of old and new material played, too, with every release represented. A bit of a surprise was an airing of the lengthy When Good Dogs Do Bad Things, and perhaps even more surprising was the reception afforded to the two more, shall we say, melodic tracks from the new album. Black Bubblegum was received well, but the band themselves were unusually static for this track: I couldn’t work out whether this was because the song itself is rather different to their usual, in being rather subdued, and (whisper it) almost pop orienatated. The other of these, Milk Lizard, despite it’s rather anthemic chorus, is still mental hardcore otherwise and so fitted in rather better.
The band’s live reputation as one of the best live bands around is well deserved – as is their reputation of being rather insane on stage. In the photo pit was something of a terrifying experience, where you didn’t quite know what was going to happen next – with Greg and both guitarists constantly leaping up onto the monitors in front of you, the guitarist Jeff Tuttle spinning and throwing his guitar all over place, as well as leaping into the crowd while playing his guitar – but an amazingly exhilhirating experience too, watching a band at the peak of their powers.
And with a final sprint though Party Smasher and a bellowed Sunshine The Werewolf (no, me neither), Greg and the band thanked the crowd, said goodnight and began to seemingly greet the whole front row before leaving a shellshocked crowd to reflect on the past 55 minutes: quite possibly the best metal gig I have seen in thirteen years of attending shows.