- Lenny Mullins
- The Dillinger Escape Plan at Olympic Hall
Going to a heavy show in Halifax that isn’t all ages is still a weird concept to me. I still remember the newness and novelty of finally being legal and getting to see a band at The Pavilion (RIP) one night and then watching the exact same set the next night at Michael’s (also RIP) with a beer in hand. While my hardcore kid days are more or less behind me (the punk rock DIY mindset has moved from promoting shitty bands and sewing back patches on denim vests to actually deciding to do laundry and make car insurance payments) sometimes the boy wonder comes out for a night and, man, if he was ever going to come out, Thursday night was the time.
Big-ticket act The Dillinger Escape Plan destroyed the Dirty-O in the best way possible with some help from Cancer Bats along with local darlings A Sight For Sewn Eyes and Barlow. It was a chaotic, deafening circus of circle pits, tattoos and MGD. Here’s the play by play for those who missed it:
First up was Barlow. The Barlow crew has been around the block, with all of the members playing in no less than 600 bands over the course of their life on earth. Four young dudes they sure know what they’re doing, and last night’s set proved it again. Watching a mosh pit begin to form is like watching the beginnings of an awkward high school dance but Barlow had the crowd moving in no time. Never change boys, and don’t be strangers.
Next were the hometown heroes of heavy, A Sight For Sewn Eyes. It had been a while since I had seen ASFSE play, and I have to confess I haven’t heard any of their newest album (it’s been out since July, go check it out kiddos), but the b’ys have not skipped leg day as they were out the gate running. You wouldn’t have guessed that this was only the second show they’ve played in the last two years. For a band in a style of music that produces SO MUCH mediocrity and monotony ASFSE continues to age like a fine wine, becoming more complex and distinctive with each passing year. Vocalist Joshua Hanusiak gave a super genuine and emotional mid-set speech, thanking the Hali scene for all the support over the years. True hardcore kids never die, they just get older, and they’re still sticking by ASFSE.
Cancer Bats hit the stage next. I’ve never really followed the Bats, but I jammed along to the songs I knew. Personal highlight of the set was hearing Hail Destroyer and Pneumonia Hawk live because I remembered those tracks from high school. I also totally forgot that they had that rad-ass cover of The Beastie’s "Sabotage," so that was pretty cool. This was around the point where my phone was hitting the 5% mark and considering how badly I wanted to get shots of Dillinger for The Coast’s Insta (my press pass says photographer, I guess every dummy with a cell phone is a photographer now) I neglected most of the set for a suitable place to charge my phone and grab a beer. Sorry Bats, maybe next time.
Finally, fulfilling what I had been waiting for years to see, The Dillinger Escape Plan took the stage. From beginning to end it was bat-shit crazy. If you have not heard of or seen these guys before, do yourself a favour and head over to YouTube because their shows are legendary for complete disregard for personal safety (you can also check out the pictures from last night here). While to many their music may sound like children on bath salts demolishing a music store, what Dillinger does is pure art. Combining elements of metal, jazz, progressive rock and good ol’ punk, Dillinger continues to creates some of the most interesting music in their scene 18 some odd years since conception. Fortunately, they encapsulated their career pretty well that night. DEP played several tracks from their most recent release One Of Us Is The Killer, but not leaving out some jams from the older albums, which I feel should be a requirement for all bands that play Halifax for the first time. I mean this because there’s always that one person in the crowd who has been waiting YEARS for you to finally tour in our fine city and you have some catching up to do in their books. It’s common courtesy.
All in all it was everything that the little hardcore kid inside me had wanted. Hell, it was everything grown up me had hoped and dreamed for too. I mean, there’s still Cloud Nothings, Cryptorips, Rich Aucoin w/ The Symphony, Scratch Bastid and so many others to see still, but I might have to make the early call and give Dillinger the completely subjective and made up award of Best HPX Performance of the Year. I’ll get back to you if that changes.
Coady LeBlanc is The Coast's Front Desk Enforcer