GIG REVIEW: THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN Live at Hard Luck Bar, Toronto
August 4th at the Hard Luck Bar in Toronto – also known as the steamy cesspool of screaming fans kicked off the beginning of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s latest tour. As amazing as the show was, the experience was bittersweet in retrospect, finding out the following morning that this will be the band’s final tour cycle, supporting their upcoming album, ‘Dissociation’. Nevertheless, I’m sure all who attended can agree that Dillinger certainly delivered, starting the tour off with a bang.
The personal atmosphere of the night is definitely worth mentioning, due to both the intimacy of such a small venue and how interactive all of the bands were – particularly Dillinger, who not only made sure that everyone was hydrated, but also made the crowd feel involved in the music, guitarist Ben Weinman launching himself into the sea of people at one point, while never missing a note.
Adding to the personal aspect was the fact that both of the openers were local acts. While I was somewhat unimpressed by the single song that I had previously heard, The Apex proved to be a really good addition to the bill. They were more technical than I had initially thought, had enough energy to pump up the crowd, and were generally fun to watch perform. Ancress, on the other hand, I found to be more generic, and not nearly as tight as the other bands. In fact, the only member worth listening to was the bassist. I was also often distracted by the drummer’s rigid, potentially injury-inducing grip. Although I liked that their frontman had spirit and jumped down in front of the stage to face his band, the novelty soon wore off and it felt like everyone was moving back, rather than embracing his energy. I also wasn’t a fan of his vocals, though that may have been partially due to the struggles that come with live performance. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on that one.
Once The Dillinger Escape Plan took the stage, however, the room seemed to shrink in capacity as the fans swarmed in. They played a variety of songs from their discography, opening with the oldest track on the set list, “The Mullet Burden”. The majority was split between material off of ‘Miss Machine’ and their 2013 album, ‘One Of Us Is The Killer’, including fan favourites “Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants” and “Prancer”. “Milk Lizard” was by far one of the highlights of the show, Greg Puciato delivering that long melody near the end better than I had expected him to. I would’ve liked for “Baby’s First Coffin” or something from ‘Irony Is A Dead Scene’ to have made an appearance, but they did premiere a new track (“Limerent Death”, which they released a music video for the next day).
All in all, it was a fantastic show, made even more intense by fans who consistently screamed the lyrics right back at Puciato. Every member of Dillinger was extremely solid, and despite how crowded the tiny venue was (not to mention the explosive reputation that Dillinger concerts have gathered), the Hard Luck is still standing. On a side note, I must applaud the fact that they manage themselves, because not many bands do and it takes a lot of work and dedication to do so many jobs all at once. These guys have influenced a great deal of bands over the last twenty years, and while it’s sad to see them go, I’m just glad that I didn’t miss them while they were here.