AFI and Dillinger Escape Plan at Avalon
Gothpunk and metalskronk make for strange bedfellows, even moreso at Avalon last night when Jersey’s Dillinger Escape Plan opened for Cali chart-toppers AFI. (That’s to say nothing of the early band, Nightmare of You, who traffic in classic, jangled power-pop: ironically, this may have been the only context in which that kind of music could be construed as a total “fuck you.”) Dillinger’s distorted, jazz-touched Harvard-guide-to-mathcore skronk on Miss Machine couldn’t be more at odds with the refined ’80s-new-wave/thrashpop of AFI’s Decemberunderground. But the variation in sonic textures seemed not to matter much -- most likely, it was the point -- and an enthusiastic crowd packed the floor, surfing and slamming to both bands as best they could.
DEP singer Greg Puciato kicked things off by disappearing into the rafters 15 seconds into their first song, as the other four guys exploded into hysteric convulsions down on the stage. The chop-shop time signatures and acrobatic stunt-guitar of "43% Burnt" made for a perfect backdrop when Puciato, having scaled a precarious stack of equipment, bashed his drummer’s cymbal stand against the roof-secured PA speakers and flailed his own mic stand in the air. Within the first four songs, Puciato had also torn down a guitar amp and thrown himself at the mercy of the front row. This is what is known, in the business, as a tough act to follow.
As AFI frontman Davey Havok took the stage, it seemed impossible that something better would follow: this is a guy who wears mascara and eye shadow, a band in which all four members’ faces grace a tour t-shirt. (C’mon: who buys a shirt with the drummer’s face on it?) Perhaps the dudes behind me put it best by chanting "Gay-F-I," in a failed attempt to drown out the Despair Faction’s more predictable chants of "A-F-I." But the haters were in the stark minority: the crowd sang along to every song, even the newer throwaways (“Prelude 12/21”) and the older stuff (“A Single Second”). And looks can be deceiving, the energy level and screamo factor on "Miss Murder" and "Silver and Cold" were on par with their tourmates, and nudged them to the "better act of the night" status.
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