Red Fang/Dillinger Escape Plan/Mastodon - Manchester Academy 1 - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Red Fang/Dillinger Escape Plan/Mastodon - Manchester Academy 1

by Miz DeShannon Rating: Release Date:

Manchester's Academy 1 was packed out from before the start of Red Fang's set, first up on this three band bill of grizzlies. A heavy stomping stoner rock act, engaging the crowd from the outset, they gave a good solid start to the night and had a great response being the new boys on the bill. Or should that be bears, considering the amount of beards and hair involved...? For those who didn't get there early enough to see them, they've got their own headline show at The Star & Garter on April 16. It'll be interesting to see how many of those engaged people can fit into such a tiny place to see them again.

Next up were the mighty Dillinger Escape Plan. Starting out in the 90s as a mathcore band, playing highly technical heavy rock, their set is now an eclectic mix of originals and newer, more melodic tracks. But knowing where you're going and what you're doing with your career, having a manifesto as a band, is a must... Or is it? Artists who satisfy their 'sound' album after album are loved and praised, but then you get bands like Dillinger who change their minds along the way. Being a new listener to Dillinger, I've noticed they're a love-em-or-hate-em act - and all because they've changed their output through their career.

So acts who state they're 'experimental', like Secret Chiefs 3 for instance, can get away with having a different noise in every release, and different members on stage for every tour, but without that statement of intent an act can compromise their standing with their fans? It'd seem so. Luckily this confusion and debate hasn't compromised Dillinger so much that people don't turn out to see them. It's given them the label of 'controversial', which is always an interesting hook. And, the ladies love them.

Their set was nothing but frenetic, visually and audibly, guitarists Ben Weinman and Jeff Tuttle cavorting around the stage using every item of kit to stand on, run across and jump off. Thrashing their way through tracks like 'Panasonic Youth' and 'Milk Lizard', they didn't falter on either musicianship or the speed and furiosity of playing, even from bassist Liam Wilson, who strode around the stage hugging his instrument as though he had an AK-47 poised for attack. Well, it was an attack, a hardcore-punk-rock attack on your ears.

They'd give all these new mathcore acts a damned good run for their money, and undoubtedly won hands down, no questions asked. Relentless energy and physical intensity made for a fabulous set, and so what that their sound changes album to album? They still play totally full-on, intense hardcore stomps, and however frightening the sometimes screamo vocals might be, they were totally engaging and a great support for headliners Mastodon, who, interestingly, have mellowed somewhat with their latest release, The Hunter.

Mastodon are by no means as visual a band as Dillinger. It's all very serious and stand-still on stage, maybe the odd wander left or right from Troy Sanders when he's not howling out lyrics like a posessed wolf. Starting with 'Dry Bone Valley', then 'Black Tongue' from the latest album, their set was definitely more anthemic, with the crowd waving and singing along to the majority of new tracks and not really batting an eyelid to the rest, unless of course they were in the melee of the moshpit.

Regardless of any recent softening and mainstream leanings such as a Jools Holland appearance, their hour-and-a-half on stage was still yet another beautifully imposing and intense experience - crazy drumming from Brann Dailor, never faltering behind the super-proficient playing of the other three. So many elements of classic rock and metal sneak into their set, even guitar harmonies a la Iron Maiden pop out here and there, all wrapped up in their unique distortion-filled sludge.

Despite all three bands coming from different backgrounds and having different influences this was a really appropriate line-up, and they all joined in for a group encore of 'Creature Lives'. Massive. All of it. Just like a real Mastodon.

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