ARCHIVE of District of Cacophony

April 25, 2007 | PREVIEWS

Life in planes

I still have to do a write-up for Made Out of Babies, but today I want to sketch out some thoughts about the Dismemberment Plan, who are playing reunion shows this weekend. (I’ll be attending on Friday night.)

Man, I was startled to see that they were getting back together! They’re doing benefit shows for Callum Robbins, and I support the cause, of course, but I am not sure what to think about the show. They broke up pretty recently, in 2003, but I was out of the country at the time, so I haven’t seen them since maybe early 2002. Five years ago. It feels like a lifetime.

When I saw them listed in an ad for the Black Cat, it was kind of like getting a letter from somebody who was a big part of your life — less than a lover, maybe, but more than a friend — who you haven’t had contact with in five years. Weird, and I have a little queasiness about the whole thing.

Here’s my story with the Dismemberment Plan. They were a pretty popular band in DC, with fun catchy songs and shows where people sang along, and got up on stage and danced. The first time I saw them was around 1998 and I hated them. I was into hard rock and punk. I went to shows to bang my head or else to watch crazy guitar noise. I thought the Dismemberment Plan had a stupid name and made annoying music.

But whoah how they grew on me over time. It helped that I had friends who were into them, and I listened to the records, and I got caught up in the good lyrics, and the silliness of some of it. This was a band that wanted to have it both ways: having a blast while still wearing its heart on its sleeve.

I like a lot of their music, but I really love their last real album, Change. It came out in fall of 2001, a time when the world was all topsy-turvy, and I was in the middle of uprooting my own life and changing things all around. As it turned out, though I liked the album, I never actually bought it and I didn’t really listen to it in depth until after I moved to Poland and had a burned copy of it. Change is one of those albums that I listen to over and over, even years later. It’s a smart and satisfying record, and a sad one. There aren’t too many fun dancey songs on it, it’s more a record of heartbreak and loss, told through sleek, tight songcraft. The name “Change” is totally appropriate, and I guess it’s partly just the coincidence of all the changes in my life and in the world around me that were taking place in the early ’00s that makes this album so special to me.

If you check out their website, they have some songs to download, including what is maybe my favorite song of theirs, “The Face of the Earth.” This song pretty much summed up my life a few years ago when I came back to America. The girl who disappeared, the confusion of life, the poetic imagery. (Also I think that they ripped off Uriah Heep a little bit in this song, which is sort of cool. I’ll talk about that some other time.) My favorite part is at the end: “Nothing’s really different though it seems like I’ve lived my life in planes, which is kind of strange”… Yeah that was me circa 2004-2005.

You can listen to “The Face of the Earth” and read the lyrics at this Chinese (?) blog post.


Anyhow, I am not sure what to expect from a reunion show. I am pretty leery of reunions in general, and this one in particular. They first announced one show and it sold out in about a nanosecond, but the second show went on sale unannounced, and I happened to look at the Black Cat’s website one day at the end of the work day and it said “on sale now”, so I snagged a few for myself and some friends. So I will be with some of my best friends ever and we will have some beers and the nostalgia will not be too strange, I think. Besides I kind of half-expect the Plan to just play goofy hip-hop covers and such. I’m so pop-culture oblivious these days that I probably won’t even recognize them. That would be okay with me.

I still think the band name is dumb, but they make me happy in a way that few bands do anymore. It should be a good Friday night.

Here are some youtube clips of the Plan.

Secret Curse:

And an actual music video for “Time Bomb”: