NEW YORK, NY—I always forget my sunglasses for a Dillinger show.
I first saw them at now-closed Club Krome, after Greg Puciato replaced Dimitri Minakakis but prior to the release of Miss Machine, and they had huge flashlamps inside what appeared to be extra-large PA speakers mounted on each side of the stage, which went off at seemingly random intervals. I watched the show with my eyes to the floor.
Their light rig has become slightly more optically tolerable since (and now powered by LEDs for the energy consumption conscious), while expanding and adding 4×12 cabinets with glowing bulbs replacing the speakers and most recently four stout cylinders with LEDs hanging a few feet above the band’s heads that were promptly swing around by the New Jersey natives.
If you’ve been to a Dillinger show, you’ve a good idea of what happened next. If not, check YouTube. But to clarify (i.e. do my job), Puciato ran himself into the crowd at least twice. He also, of course, found a way to climb onto the raised area stage right of Irving Plaza, and it even looked like he contemplated—and quickly dismissed the notion of—climbing up the chained PA system above. Not to be outdone, guitarist Ben Weinman climbed up to the same area and jumped from it to the stage down into a full-on kneeling guitar god position. Relative newcomer second guitarist Jeff Tuttle thrashed himself about admirably, as did bassist Liam Wilson who has gone full caveman with his facial hair. Rock.
There was the requisite climbing on amps, posturing on the two double bass drums (manned by the reassuring Billy Rymer, who had big shoes to fill), and of course, hitting those swinging LEDs constantly, one of which went dead during the performance.
It’s an experience worthy of Benny HillEscape Plan: take the footage, speed it up and play “Yakety Sax” over it. Someone get on that, please.
But there was a better soundtrack to the evening. Much better. Always playing at a high caliber despite courting death at every show, Dillinger played a cross section of their now rather vast catalog, breaking out: “When Good Dogs Do Bad Things” from the Irony Is A Dead Scene EP; two cuts, “Farewell, Mona Lisa” and “Chinese Whispers,” off the now-released Option Paralysis; “Mouth Of Ghosts,” “Milk Lizard” and “Black Bubblegum” from Ire Works; “Sunshine The Werewolf” and “Panasonic Youth” from Miss Machine; and “Sugar Coated Sour” and “43% Burnt” from Calculating Infinity. There were a few more, but that’s what stuck in my head. Which is a lot more than most concerts.
I was slightly surprised they returned to closing with “43% Burnt,” having switched to opening with it immediately after Ire Works’ release, but it seems not even the mighty Dillinger can change their signature song, almost a dozen years and a dozen members after first penning it. If that’s the one failure of New Jersey’s most musically significant band since Parliament (and Funkadelic), they’re forgiven.