Reviews

Dismemberment Plan + Les Savy Fav + The Damn Personals

Alexandra Chassanoff
Dismemberment Plan + Les Savy Fav + The Damn Personals

Dismemberment Plan + Les Savy Fav + The Damn Personals

City: Boston
Venue: The Roxy
Date: 2003-02-06

Dismemberment Plan
Les Savy Fav
S E T    L I S T
The Face of the Earth
Time Bomb
Bra
Secret Curse
The City
Girl O'Clock
Come Home
Change (new song)
Gyroscope
The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich
You Are Invited
Sentimental Man
I Love a Magician
Back and Forth
The Ice of Boston
The Other Side
What Do You Want Me to Say?
Doing the Standing Still
Ok Joke's Over Encore
Following Through
Onward, Fat Girl
On one of the milder nights in Boston this winter, I stood at the end of a chatter-filled 200-person line in front of the Roxy night club. It was barely 7:30 and doors were just opening -- yet the excitement among people was palpable. The Dismemberment Plan was in town. And, according to a recent announcement on the band's website, they were breaking up. It seemed as if every blog and livejournal out there was somehow involved in the grieving process. Tonight, we lucky Bostonians would give the Washington D.C. natives, who have frequently referred to Boston as their second home, a "sort of homecoming" despite our sorrows. Or maybe because of them? We hadn't even gotten in the door yet when the fun began. Some of these amusements included overzealous bouncers harassing ticketholders, women dressed in punk rawk fishnet tights with stiletto heels brazenly facing the cold, and Travis Morrison himself, lead singer of the D-plan, trying to convince the doorman that he was part of the band and needed to get inside. As Morrison later related to the crowd, no one backed him up. Some fans we were... When we finally did get inside the Roxy, which doubles as a ritzy nightclub complete with centerpiece disco ball, the floor was already packed. Local band the Damn Personals were on stage and were tearing through their set with mod-rock precision. The Personals have been a staple of the local music scene for the past few years but I've never been particularly taken with their brand of rock. Les Savy Fav took the stage about 20 minutes after the Damn Personals left, and about 25 minutes after the Damn Personals' guitarist leapt from atop a 40-foot-high stacked amp back onto the stage in a truly rock star move. I had to wonder what Tim Harrington, lead singer for the Fav, would be doing to top that. Easily the most engaging frontman I've witnessed in the past few years, Harrington seamlessly wraps the audience around his finger every time. Tonight, while the band plugged in and tuned around him, Harrington started a beat box-turned-rap exchange with the crowd during a rendition of Khia's "My Neck, My Back". Then the band launched straight into "Bloom on Demand" from their last release, 2001's excellent but overproduced Go Forth. The next 45 minutes saw the band play on, while Harrington busied himself spraying water on the crowd, rubbing faces with audience members, climbing atop the balcony, and finally, hanging by the disco ball that hung from the center of the ballroom. Oh yeah, and belting out favorites like "Dishonest Don Part II" and "One To Three". Then, it was time. Not that the folk didn't enjoy Les Savy Fav, but it was pretty obvious they didn't line up four hours early for nothing. One feeling that struck me was that D-Plan's fans appeared to be as close to "community-like" as any proper indie rock, hippie-haters would allow themselves to be. Everyone was relatively cool and people weren't being rude to each other when they left their spots to get drinks or relieve themselves. These are the things you notice, and while I would argue against judging a band based on their fans, it's certainly food for thought that the D-Plan fans I met were simply there for the music and a good time. And who can argue with those motives? The band came on stage about 20 minutes after Les Savy Fav. The crowd was pumped and everyone cheered the minute Morrison came onstage, followed by guitarist Jason Caddell, drummer Joe Easley, and bassist Eric Axelson. Morrison was smiling and that smile didn't leave his face for the rest of the night. Soon after positioning themselves in front of their respective instruments, they broke open the night with "The Face of the Earth", the grooving second track from their last and final release Change. It didn't take long for Morrison to start rhythmically gyrating from side to side while Axelson lurched back and forward in a style reminiscent of Archers of Loaf's Matt Gentling's live playing. They played pretty much straight through, with much less Travis-banter between songs than I'd expected based on friends' reporting. I couldn't help but try and look for signs of tension between band members, but none were particularly evident. If anything, it was uncanny just how congruous the band sounded together. Easley was one of the most talented drummers I'd seen in a damn long time. His playing combined with Axelson's fluid bass lines and Caddell's guitar-playing to provide arguably the most solid rhythmic backbone found in a rock band today. The funk-punk sound that has become signature Dismemberment Plan and sealed their reputation as a stellar live band was on full display during tracks like Change's "Time Bomb" and Emergency and I's "Gyroscope". The set list spanned their last four full-length releases, particularly Change but also a healthy amount from the acclaimed Emergency. As is customary for D-Plan shows, the band invited fans onstage during "Ice of Boston" -- a gesture that clearly held particular value on this night with this group. It wasn't long before the stage had filled up, with members of Les Savy Fav rocking out as well. The crowd, seemingly well-versed in the routine, immediately exited the stage upon the song's completion and returned to the floor. The band continued through their set, playing the favorites "What Do You Want Me to Say" and "Doing the Standing Still" before ending in a tribute of sorts: a ménage à trois of Police songs interjected into the middle of "OK, Joke's Over". With that, the band left the stage, but they were back within moments to finish up the night with (the prophetic?) "Following Through" from Change and "Onward, Fat Girl" from their very first album, 1995's !. It's a shame that a band with so much musical ambition and creativity has exhausted their collective resources -- but rest assured, blogspotters, we'll continue to hear more from them in the future. It may not be in the same incarnation as the Dismemberment Plan but what's clear from watching each of them perform is that music is their lifeblood. They won't be straying from it for too long.

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