43% (sun) Burnt – The Dillinger Escape Plan live from Hellfest, Syracuse, New York, 2003.

As I posted earlier, 2003 was an interesting time – I was finished with school (for the first time), was fresh from a stint in London and had my whole future in front of me (much like I feel now, aside from the London part).  Photographing hardcore and heavy metal was familiar and I took to it as soon as I returned from London.  I hoped that tour management and the opportunities that came with it would help push my photography beyond the then-contemporary magazines “borrowing” my photographs for nothing more than a credit.  In many ways, it did.  More on that later.

Photographing Hellfest, an event that I helped produce the year before, was a huge opportunity and a lot of fun.  The line-up was incredible, I was surrounded by friends and I had complete and total access.  More importantly, the music was fantastic.  Terror was awesome and relatively new to the sceneConverge was fantastic and I made photographs that I loved re-discovering ten years later.  Many of the other bands that played were equally great.

And then the Dillinger Escape Plan played.

The Dillinger Escape Plan live at Hellfest 2003.  Syracuse, New York.
The Dillinger Escape Plan with Dmitri live at Hellfest 2003. Syracuse, New York.

DEP was already established as a monster of a band that traded in equal parts complex metal and visual craziness.  Stage diving feet first while playing guitar.  Swinging from the rafters.  Fire breathing.

Yeah, fire breathing.

The Dillinger Escape Plan live at Hellfest 2003.  Syracuse, New York.
The Dillinger Escape Plan live at Hellfest 2003. Syracuse, New York.

I was hooked on DEP well before they took the stage at Hellfest.  I was also relieved that as a lowly photographer with nothing more than an all-access badge I wouldn’t have to worry about the aftermath of their performance.  Remember that fire breathing thing?  They did it at a club that I worked at with a low ceiling and a huge crowd and scared us all.  “Are they using lamp oil?  That really looks like lamp oil.  Uh oh!  At least her eyebrows will grow back, right?”

The Dillinger Escape Plan live at Hellfest 2003.  Syracuse, New York.
The Dillinger Escape Plan live at Hellfest 2003. Syracuse, New York.

The open-air setting was perfect for DEP.  They were breathing fire, of course, and there wasn’t a ceiling to catch on fire.  Dmitri, the original singer, came out for a few songs and the crowd went crazy.  Musically, they were untouchable.  They played as tight – if not tighter – than any other band that weekend and were totally on their own in terms of showmanship / stage anarchy.

The Dillinger Escape Plan live at Hellfest 2003.  Syracuse, New York.
The Dillinger Escape Plan live at Hellfest 2003. Syracuse, New York.

I believe that they were the final act for that year’s fest and I doubt that anyone else could have followed their set.  The fans were spent, the promoters were relieved that nobody caught on fire and after three days of stage diving, moshing and fire breathing, the NY State Fair and NY State Troopers looked like they were ready to pull the plug…but that’s a story for another day.

Note -all shot on film and scanned by some toothless gopher at a mall photo shop.

All photographs created by Joel Dowling.  If you make unauthorized commercial use of my copyrighted images, you hereby agree to a licensing fee of $10,000 per image, per use. I AM A LAWYER.  Do not reproduce these images anywhere without express consent.  Thanks.

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2 Comments

  1. I ‘m your Father , I et You be at this concert , with the fire , whoa !!!

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