WORDS BY: HUNTER FOLEY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: STEPHANIE TRAN
On April 9th, 2014, The Opera House in Toronto was dominated by The Dillinger Escape Plan, along with Trash Talk, Retox, and Shining. From mind-bending saxophone solos, to crazy stage antics, each band delivered an unforgettable performance. Start to finish, this eccentric line-up blew the roof off and left everyone scraping their jaws off of the floor.
First up was Shinig, from Oslo, Norway. This avant-garde, jazz fusion metal band had a powerful opening, immediately grabbing the audiences attention. Whether they knew Shining or not, everyone was fixated on their incredible live performance. Lead vocalist and multi instrumentalist, Jørgen Munkeby, astounded the crowd with his saxophone skills, alternating between the sax and the guitar throughout the performance. They had an incredible energy live, with a perfect blend of jazz and metal that was almost magnetic. An all around kick-ass performance from Shining, definitely a band you do not want to miss live.
Up next was Retox from San Diego, California. The moment they took the stage, the energy poured out and the crowd came to life. Vocalist Justin Pearson didn’t waste a second getting everyone on their feet, and with good reason. Retox setlist was brisk, abrasive, and completely in your face. The crowd reciprocated the high energy almost immediately, banging their heads and singing along. The musicianship from this band was incredibly tight, each member feeding off the other. Loud slamming drums and blistering riffs, backed up by solid bass lines and topped off with Pearsons vocals, Retox put on a very exciting and memorable show. (Check out our interview with Retox)
After a short break, Trash Talk from Sacramento, California, dawned the stage. Known for their wild antics on stage and off, everyone was waiting in anticipation. Kickstarting the performance, vocalist Lee Spielman forced everyone off of their feet, and wasn’t taking no for an answer. After the first song ended, he reminded the crowd that there is no stage barrier, and no security in front of the stage. “You didn’t pay 25 dollars to stand here!”he stated. Upon coming off stage into the middle of the crowd, everyone came in to give him a big hug. We were then told to stay where we were, and start a circle pit when the first note of the next song hit. Never in my life have I seen a hug turn into a circle pit.
The audience was participating to the fullest, moshing, crowd surfing, climbing up on stage and head banging away with Spielman. At one point, he even got the entire audience to sit down so he could find someone with a joint! They performed tons of fan favorites, including the hit Awake. On top of it being an insanely tight performance, it was hilarious, intriguing, and purely fun. Looking around at the end of Trash Talk, the entire venue was brimming with smiles, including Trash Talk themselves.
Last, but most certainly not least, was The Dillinger Escape Plan. Descending from Morris Plains, New Jersey, this progressive metal powerhouse brought their unparalleled sound and performance to the stage, and didn’t hold back one bit. For those unfamiliar with TDEP, they’re know for having some of the wildest live shows in the scene right now, featuring anything from bouncing off the walls to tearing apart their entire setup. Opening with “Prancer” off their newest album One Of Us Is the Killer, the crowd completely lost it.
Lead guitarist Ben Weinman immediately took to jumping off the walls, climbing the amps, and spinning around on stage. There were even a few times that he crowd surfed while playing. At one point the crowd gathered around and held his legs up, allowing him to stand on the audience as he shredded away. TDEP played tons of material off their entire discography, ranging from older songs to newer material off their most recent album. They featured a brand new song, “Happiness is a Smile” for this tour. The track has been released on limited edition 7’’and cassette tapes. The bad news, you can only get a tape if you buy the V.I.P package, and you can only find the 7’’at the merch table this tour.
Each member put on an outstanding performance in their own right. Greg Puciato delivered amazing live vocals and kept the crowd going. As the bass and rhythm guitarist thrashed away, drummer Billy Rymer tore apart the drum kit with some of the most spastic and eclectic beats I’ve ever heard. There were two visualizers displaying clips of classic film, ranging from a woman being hypnotized into a deep sleep, writhing maggots, a mans head exploding, and so on, accenting the mood and tone of the performance depending on what song was being played. With the bands sound being so sporadic, featuring plenty of off time riffs and twitchy drums, they translate their unique sound to the live stage flawlessly. TDEP put on a pure, raw, and assertive show that can only be described as unforgettable. If Dillinger isn’t on your list of bands to see, you might want to do some editing.
This tour ends in La Jolla, California, April 26th, 2014. This is one of the most anticipated live shows right now, so get your tickets fast! There’s even a few more Canadian dates left! Trust me, you’re going to be kicking yourself if you don’t go. Find tickets here.