By Andy O’Connor, special to the Statesman
If you’re a Dillinger Escape Plan fan in Austin, Saturday night was it.
The members of the experimental metal quintet are on their final tour, and they closed off Saturday night at Sound on Sound Fest like they’ve been doing since the late ‘90s: going ballistic.
Sure, the band’s craziest days are behind them, as none of them injured themselves onstage, but they were still far more chaotic than anything else on the bill. Any one part of their live show — the reliance on strobe lights, their turbulent technicality, guitarist Ben Weinman wielding his axe almost as if he wants to lose control, and the fact that any one of them could jump into the crowd at any second — would be overwhelming for most. Taken all together, it’s exhilarating, but you also understand why they’re calling it quits.
While none of them showed any slack, these performances are clearly hard on them, and most musicians cannot even begin to approach that level of physicality. Weinman is the only remaining original member, and bassist Liam Wilson and vocalist Greg Puciato have abused themselves for nearly as long, since 2000 and 2001 respectively. Most of their set leaned toward the mathcore that led to their rise, but there was also a heavy representation of their softer side, influenced by Faith No More’s oddball take on mainstream rock. (FNM vocalist Mike Patton sang on the band’s 2002 EP “Irony is a Dead Scene.”) “One of Us Is the Killer” is one of the few songs where there could be a sing-a-long from the crowd, and “Black Bubblegum”’s snarling melodic edge really came alive on Saturday at Sherwood Forest Faire.
Although Puciato does not have Patton’s range, they do share an oft-kilter, creepily seductive croon. Dillinger ended with “43% Burnt,” where they emptied out the rest of their arsenal for an explosive conclusion. It was complimented by a loop of the infamous head explosion scene from “Scanners,” which is a natural reaction to hearing that song. Those screeching rhythms and abrupt changes haven’t lost any of their power since “Calculating Infinity” came out in 1999, and where Dillinger succeeded was in making such dissonance moshable.
If you missed it, there’s no going back. Unless they decide to reunite a decade a down the line at whatever SOS will be in that time. You never know — Margin Walker loves a reunion! As far as metal performances at SOS go, this was one of the best, and it was a fine goodbye to their Austin fans