I would be remiss if I didn’t post about my 23rd show of the year — the much-anticipated Dismemberment Plan reunion concert at the Black Cat. A quick Technorati search reveals a ton of breathless blog reviews of the two shows these guys did this weekend (for instance here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). And you know what? Even my rather jaded showgoing self can’t help being really, really excited about last night’s show.
In various pre-weekend interviews, the D-Plan’s frontman Travis Morrison had said that he actually felt that the band were better than ever — better musicians, more comfortable with the material despite not having played any of it in three and a half years. I was skeptical, to say the least, but I honestly have to say that last night’s reunion show was easily the best show I’ve ever seen the band put on, and I saw them four times during their prime. The sound was perfect and their performance was shockingly tight, as if they hadn’t just picked up after three and a half years apart. They played all the songs one would expect — “You Are Invited,” “Time Bomb,” “The Ice of Boston,” and so on — playing almost all of Emergency & I and their usual selection of earlier stuff like “Onward, Fat Girl” and “The Dismemberment Plan Gets Rich.” The only notable omission was “Superpowers,” though I also wished that they had played “Sentimental Man.”
Setlist aside, the energy at the show was just tremendous. I caught the second opening band, whose frontman said, “We’re going to play a short set tonight, because we’re not stupid.” An apt statement, as everyone there was clearly there for one reason only. People had traveled from all over to see this reunion show, including someone from London and a bunch of people from up and down the eastern seaboard. The crowd was as I remembered from previous D-Plan shows, dancing spastically, pumping fists, jumping all over the place. What was different was the singing: it seemed like every song, the crowd was singing along as enthusiastically as Travis himself was singing into the mike. The band seemed a little overwhelmed by the response, which was understandable — during “The Ice of Boston,” in which traditionally the band asks audience members to join them on stage and dance, the crowd flooded up onto the stage to the point that the band didn’t have enough room to play their instruments, and by the end of the song Travis had given his guitar to some dude, Jason Caddell and Eric Axelson had stopped playing, and it was just Travis singing with Joe Easley tapping out the beat on drums. And everyone in the club singing along, of course.
They played two full encores, although they quipped to the crowd that they were running out of songs that they remembered how to play (they claimed to be making stuff up as they played “Bra” and “Onward, Fat Girl,” but damned if I noticed except for one flubbed line in the former). The band-audience dynamic was unforgettable. And it was all for a good cause. By the end of the year, I’ll probably have gone to many shows that were more challenging, musically ambitious, and whatnot, but I doubt any of them will have matched the atmosphere of this one.
UPDATE: There is now a review up at Pitchfork (complete with crowd shot in which one of my friends is visible, wooo), and I added to the list of blog reviews above.