In 2002, I was helping to promote my college’s concerts, at Northwestern University; that May, the Dismemberment Plan was on our annual music festival bill. I was beside myself: “Emergency & I” had been on constant rotation ever since I’d heard “You Are Invited” on one of those CMJ Monthly CDs. “Change” – which later was revealed to be their swan song -- had dropped the previous fall.
It was one of those shows that gave you temporary vertigo. The set had been moved indoors from out due to typical Chicago weather instabilities, and the collective equilibrium of students and stragglers was swimming in excessive levels of merciless bass. I remember drummer Joe Easley’s hair doing its own dance on tracks like “Ok Jokes Over” and breathless “Gyroscope.” Jason Caddell worked his guitar around the elbows and knees of odd time signatures.
Frontman Travis Morrison – taking advantage of the band’s few stable instrumental breaks – would oscillate between articulate banter and what could be described as fissures of reality. During one of these, he closed his eyes and, in his falsetto, urged “I’m a cheerleader” in a feverous chant, while running his fingers up the sides of his own ribs and “cupping” what I suppose was this cheerleader’s imaginary bustier. Perhaps it was on “Bra.” The show was silly, and mostly magnificent.
About a year later, the Plan split. Morrison released his solo debut “Travistan” in 2004, and “All Y’all” in 2007 under the name Travis Morrison Hellfighters. His bandmates formed new projects, like Eric Axelson’s group with former Promise Ring members, Maritime. But the band couldn’t stay away from each other for too long: they reconvened for two “one-offs” in 2007, and they embarked on a proper tour this past January to promo the vinyl reissue of “Emergency & I." The stint took them all the way to Tokyo, where they recorded 23-track “Live in Japan 2011,” D-Plan’s very first live set. It will be out internationally tomorrow (June 1), and available digitally.
“Our live show was so much a part of our rep, so it’s nice to have a statement that presents and explains that,” Morrison tells me, before going into self-deprecation mode. “But it’s like Chris Rock said in an interview once: ‘It can’t always be the “Purple Rain” tour.’”
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