The Black Queen Rock Austin, TX with Synth-inspired Pop Music (SHOW REVIEW)

 The formation of the Black Queen in 2015, featuring the Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato and Telefon Tel Aviv’s Joshua Eustis, seemed at the time to be a fun 80’s new wave inspired side project for the longtime Dillinger singer. Having always featured influences of Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails in his main band, it seemed like a good way for Puciato to explore those sounds along with Eustis, himself a former member of NIN. However, following the breakup of Dillinger in 2017, the Black Queen has reasserted itself as Puciato’s main creative outlet and a force to be reckoned with on its own.

The legacy of Dillinger will always loom large over the band. At Austin’s Barracuda on Tuesday, February 26th, the room was filled with classic Dillinger shirts and hoodies. Puciato didn’t hide from it, asking how many in the crowd had been with him since the early days, referring to a Dillinger show at the old downtown Emo’s in Austin many, many moons ago.

But Puciato also made no attempts to pander to his fans. The Black Queen is a different beast. Despite a heavy opening set from New York noise band Uniform, the Black Queen came out and rocked the house with synth-inspired pop music. Though there were moments when they indulged noise influences, such as closer “Apocalypse Morning” where Puciato grabbed a guitar and joined the rest of the band in making a racket of feedback to end out the show, the Black Queen’s set for the most part consisted of the kind of danceable and almost genuinely happy music that metalheads tend to rail against.

Puciato didn’t scream or jump off the stage. On occasions such as climbing up on a platform at side stage or when he opened the show by throwing a drink into the audience, it seemed like Puciato might go back to his wildman ways. But for the most part, he danced and sang beautifully and transcended his past in the hardcore scene.

While acknowledging that most of the audience was there because of that past, the Black Queen did a fantastic job of reeling a traditionally single minded group of fans into embracing something completely different. Instead of mosh pits, songs like “Ice to Never” inspired fans to actually dance like they were in the 1980’s club atmosphere that the Black Queen so often conjures.

It remains to be seen if the Black Queen will truly remain Puciato’s permanent focus or if he’ll eventually embrace heavier sounds again. Either way, witnessing a different side of the frontman was a true joy and a welcome change in approach. The Black Queen’s music may be a different animal, but they stepped on stage to prove themselves to their audience and largely succeeded.

Photo by Corinne Schiavone

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