Saturday, 9 November 2013

Escape to Victory. Live review of The Dillinger Escape Plan at Koko

The Dillinger Escape Plan *****
Three Trapped Tigers *****
Maybeshewill *****

Koko, Camden, 8th November 2013

On the face of it, tonight's bill is a little like a menu from one of those utterly pretentious 1980s wanky restaurants. You know the kind of thing; a foetal marmoset on a bed of pan fried Albanian grandmother's pubes in a bile and kumquat coulis. It just shouldn't work. Or even be there.

But that's being far too simplistic. And narrow-minded. All three acts are all bound together by a host of DNA similarities. Passion. Energy. Musicianship. The desire to bloody mindedly challenge  the status quo and fart in the face of the average or bland. All mixed up with  a unified and innate 'don't give a fuck' attitude, we're going to do it our way cojones. 

And tonight, even though it's a ridiculously early start for a metropolitan Friday night rock show, London's inquisitive, converted, obsessed and musical libertarian masses are out in force to tuck into this most startling buffet.

Maybeshewill *****

First on the tasting plate are Leicester's post rock maestros Maybeshewill. To a surprisingly big early crowd, they weave a magical delirium and hypnotic mist that old Merlin himself would have been proud of. 

The sound is crystal cear, the lightshow captivating (big up to DEP for letting/insisting that their supports get the full bag of toys to play with - most headliners give the undercard the equivalent of two or three 60w domestic bulbs, a glow stick and hang thick army blankets in front of the front of house) and mesmerising as the quintet take the bearded and plaid-draped throng on an emotional and organ-adjusting half an hour journey that seduces, tantalises and engages from the first perfectly played hemi-demi-semi quaver to the last.

This is far from indulgent muso wank though. It's huge, cinematic, spine tingling and satisfying splendour. Yes, it's clever, but never knowing or self-regarding. The fact that post rock (if it is indeed a genre at all) largely remains vocal-free exposes the music itself, but like a blind man develops better hearing, the absence of a crooner only serves to heighten the musicality and makes it work harder to captivate and beguile.

Thundering  rhythms, stunning stick work, lyrical and melodic reveries and modular arpeggios come together to provide a delicious and truly unique (and surprisingly emotionally-drenched ) taste sensation. Delicious. Bloody delicious.

Three Trapped Tigers *****

After the soundscapes and seduction of Maybeshewill, it's time to turn things up a little on the sensation-ometer. As the next course on this most challenging, exciting and outré meal, Three Trapped Tigers saunter onto the stage and deliver a meaty, jagged, brutal and massive portion of kick-arse. 

This is beautiful, multi layered cuisine, but infused with face melting chili that, at times is off the scoville scale. It's wholly unfair to lay most of the blame for the blistering mind-blowing intensity on the plate of Mr Adam Betts, the drummer. But I'm going to. 

More than just aided by Matt Calvert and Tom Rogerson on banks of keys and guitar, Betts drives this Hadean-bound, fucked up pantechnicon like some meta amphetamine powered demented dervish. No one on the earth surely hits the skins with greater power or precision. It's almost impossible to take your eyes off Betts, despite Rogerson and Calvert's best efforts, he's like Kaa the snake from Jungle book; beguiling, entrancing, mesmeric, stunning.

The barrage continues apace. But it's far from relentless; apart from going through just about every time signature on the planet (and some previously undiscovered) there's genuine contrast, nuance and dynamic to their offering.

Betts' driving is flawless and breathtaking throughout. Even the great Billy Rymer must have the odd twinge of nerves backstage as he waits in the wings. Like Maybeshewill before them, they benefit from the full-on eye-melting lightshow and, again, like their Leicestershire commrades have never sounded better.

This is top drawer music. Combining funk, classical, jazz, metal, fusion - what the fuck ever. Genuinely dazzling. You can call them math rock, noise rock, post modern up your arse on a hook rock. In the end, it's just brilliant. Truly brilliant.

The Dillinger Escape Plan *****

Always a bit difficult contemplating a main course after such perfect starters, hors d'oeuvres and canapés, but the inter-course wait means the by now totally rammed Koko is salivating, drooling and ravenous.

The house lights finally dim and a stygian landscape of screens carrying fucked-up, acid suffused weirdness, words, images and footage that would have happily graced Un Chien Andalou flicker and tantalise.

Then it kicks off. The razor sharp jump lead bulldog clamps are viciously attached to every fold of genitalia in the room and the wattage, ampage and voltage are all ramped to the max. Bodies squirm, dive, surf, ride, fit, spasm, gyrate, ejaculate and circulate. 

Dillinger are like no other band on the planet. They're as raw as a freshly peeled penis rubbed with drain cleaner, as aggressive as a starved tasmanian devil with hornets up its arse, but as calculated and clever as a sack of Harvard-educated weasels. There's no accident here.

The playing, as always is unbelievable technical and skilful maintained incredibly while jumping, diving, crowd walking, climbing, leaping and running. Billy Rymer's drumming, is crisp, polyrhythmic, mind-melting and super-human, the demonic Rasputin Liam Wilson is the heartbeat of the whole cardiac arrest fisting the baying crowd with his deep penetrating bass dildo, while Ben Weinman's and James Love's über-tight pyrotechnic fret work is relentlessly flawless but never predictable or tiring.

And the whole shit circus is lead with vim, vitriol and vigour by the impossibly hench Monsieur Greg Puciato. His eyes bulging almost as much as his ridiculous, thigh sized guns as he preens, snarls, screams and spellbinds the sweating, writhing hordes. The sing backs have never sounded louder or more passionate. The more memorable and melodic refrains in Black Bubblegum, Milk Lizard, the amazing One of Us Is The Killer and Gold Teeth On A Bum almost drown out the huge barrage of noise coming from the stage. 

There's genuine love in the room. But man love. Punching hard on the shoulder and bear hug love. No kissing, fondling or fingering here. And it's impossible not to be caught up in the testosterone-soused love-in.

Dillinger always eschew the norm. Fly in the face of convention. They're never afraid to appal as well as enthral. They are the very spirit of rock and roll. The flag wavers of the middle finger-in-the air generation. Never contrived or ever just going though the motions, they are a fluid, fearless and frightening force of nature and knock just about every other so called heavy, punk, metal, math or rap band into the most cocked of cocked hats.

I can honestly say, I'm not sure whether I actually love their music, hate it, am inexorably and chemically addicted to it or am just intrigued, bewildered and stunned by it. But tonight I fell in love again. In a manly way of course.

Tonight's weird and wonderful bill has been one of the cleverest, most uplifting and refreshing menus I've ever had the pleasure of dining from. For the first time ever, I felt it necessary to give all the acts on the bill of fare five stars. I have been left drained, breathless, hypnotised, sodomised and seduced. And that, my friends is what powerful, engaging, don't give a fuck music should all be about. A bloody men.


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