Dillenger Escape Plan
Live @ Ground Zero: 8/10/99
By: Eric Greenwood
With cops chasing people through the parking lot and a huge line out the front door to the club, Dillenger Escape Plan started its set oblivious to the entire ruckus. The band’s not so subtle approach to the soft/loud dynamic wore thin pretty quickly. The music was an indiscernible wall of raucous noise with a shrill, monotone bark serving as vocals. This one trick pony, thankfully, only played for about twenty-five minutes, but a longer set might have even been preferable to the ungodly wait while Mr. Bungle set up.
The fifty-minute wait in the sweaty mass while being subjected to an awful karaoke CD was quickly forgotten, however, when Mr. Bungle launched into its set with “The Air-conditioned Nightmare” off the band’s latest, California. Most of the material was new, and the crowd ate it up like they’d been listening to it for years. Mr. Bungle is impressive enough on record, but to see this stuff live is a whole other matter. I can’t begin to describe how tight these guys are. Every song is a structurally complex maze of crazy, crazy rhythm shifts and time changes, and the band pulls it off expertly.
Mike Patton belted out his tunes like a trained songbird, hitting every falsetto note dead on, which is a side of him we never really experienced in Faith No More. His stage presence is an animated mix of cartoonish gestures and self-deprecating humor. Mr. Bungle is a strange anomaly. You would never see them on MTV much less hear them on the radio, yet the club was completely packed. These people were obviously fans too, reacting to each song with earnest enthusiasm.
Mr. Bungle’s stage setup reflected the tongue-in-cheek, beachcomber image from its California artwork complete with Mr. Bungle surfboards, boogie boards, hula skirts, and beach balls. The band usually dresses up in elaborate costumes for its live shows, but this time it opted for the Magnum P.I. look with aloha shirts, slicked back hair, and baseball caps.
The band tore through its set of Beach Boys-meets-Napalm Death-jazzy-spaghetti-western-lounge-core in just over an hour and played one encore set. If you get the chance, go see this band live, but if it doesn’t come to your town, then California is as good a substitute as you’ll find.