The Dillinger Escape Plan The Opera House, Toronto ON, December 16
Published Dec 17, 2016The Dillinger Escape Plan's impending breakup hung over the night like a foul stench as fans filled the Opera House for the first of what could be the band's final shows in Toronto. But when the group actually took the stage to blaze through their set, the inevitable end wasn't mentioned even once.
As soon as the band kicked off with a performance of "Limerent Death" from their most recent album Dissociation, it became clear that all that mattered to the crowd at the sold-out venue was rocking out as much as possible.
Following an excellent performance from opening act Dead Tired, Dillinger played an extensive, career-spanning set that touched on every album in the band's formidable discography. Guitarist Ben Weinman wasted no time turning up the energy that Dillinger's live shows are known for, rotating his guitar around his arm like it was nothing during the opening song.
Frontman Greg Puciato is notorious for onstage antics like defecating into a bag on stage at Reading Festival in 2002, and while he didn't pull the same stunt in Toronto, his initial reservation disappeared as the night went on. After Weinman climbed on top of the massive speakers and jumped into the crowd, Puciato saw an opportunity to one-up his bandmate during the final encore performance of "43% Burnt."
Puciato hopped onto the speakers, then climbed onto the small decoration-only balcony on the Opera House's wall, managing to keep singing and not slip off. He then jumped the impressive height from the balcony into the audience, crowdsurfed to the bar, ordered a shot, drank it and crowdsurfed his way back to the stage. It was a moment that perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the band's live shows: energetic, fun and, if you're not careful, the cause of a severe injury.
While Dillinger themselves seemed as on point as always, the sound left something to be desired. Occasionally, the guitars were difficult to hear over drummer Billy Rymer's pummelling volume, turning some songs into oceans of noise instead of the tight, controlled chaos intrinsic to Dillinger's recorded work. That felt fairly insignificant, though, compared to the piano Weinman played for a few tracks; it was downright inaudible over the other members' performances. It's difficult to place blame for the poor sound, but it was a definite distraction throughout the set.
Still, the most important aspect of any show is the performance itself, and Dillinger gave the audience few moments to relax, bombarding them persistently with fast and intense chaos.
With next year marking the band's end, it would've been easy for their last Toronto shows to turn into melancholy affairs. Instead, the Dillinger Escape Plan decided to keep taking risks, musically and literally plunging from dangerous heights into the audience. For fans, that's the perfect send-off.