An audio-visceral assault on the senses

The Dillinger Escape Plan
October 17 at Pumpehuset

Where to begin? Mathcore, or progressive metal, is not a genre of music that I would normally listen to, but with The Dillinger Escape Plan (DEP), widely attributed as the forerunners of the mathcore genre and also one of the best live metal acts around, I willingly immersed myself in their live performance and came out the other end bruised, battered and wholly invigorated two hours later.

With DEP, who have supported the likes of Slipknot, System of a Down and Megadeath, the strange thing is that you don’t have to like the band to be captivated by their extraordinary performance. From Norwegian school kids to German cult followers, Pumpehuset was packed to the rafters with an eclectic mixture of folk, just happy to be present for a performance that can only be described as exhilarating.

In the moments leading up to the band’s entrance, the anticipation was palpable. It created a kind of tension that you can only experience at a metal gig. Light projections behind the stage kicked off before the music started, which helped to build the initial tension and then proceeded to match perfectly with the music after the concert began. At any other gig, the background images would have been distracting, but the band’s presence was such that it was impossible for me to keep my eyes off them.

There is a reason why DEP are known for their stage performances: the band’s energy was infectious and won me (and the rest of the crowd) over from the outset. Before the end of the first song, ‘Prancer’, from their latest album, One of Us Is the Killer, lead guitarist Ben Weinman was using his guitar to bat away adoring fans like flies. After the fifth, 'Panasonic Youth', (Photo: Benjamin Kotko)he had launched himself onto said flies, playing an alarmingly violent and complex song whilst fans supported him by his feet.

There is also a reason why lead singer Greg Puciato, who gained notoriety for an incident in which he defecated onstage at the UK’s Reading Festival, has been named as one of metal’s greatest front men. His presence was astounding given the chaos around him – he remained menacingly cool, delivering a performance that left the crowd almost breathless with admiration.

Their set was relentless, and featured songs from their new album and also some of their older material.  Particularly memorable was the moment in which Weinman flung himself off a ten-foot  high speaker stack only to launch into an extraordinarily complex riff, delivered with a brutal energy.

Tight vocals, off-kilt(Photo: Benjamin Kotko)er guitar riffs and ominous drum beats helped me overcome any initial apprehension I might have had, and as the band wound their way angrily through an extensive back catalogue, I was drawn in note by note. On those rare occasions when the rhythm slowed and my heart stopped racing, the tension among the revellers and moshers of the first rows was evident, as if preparing themselves to be punched in the stomach again and again.  

As the lights went down on the stage after their final and probably most well-known song, ‘43% Burnt’, seemingly mere moments after they had started moshing, the crowd were left mesmerised by a performance second to none.

It is thanks to bands like the Dillinger Escape Plan that Pumpehuset, after a re-launch last summer, is quickly re-establishing itself as a one of the go-to venues on the Copenhagen scene.

(For more images from the gig see click here )

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