Photo Credit: Robin Ervolina
If you haven’t read my review of Dance Gavin Dance’s Mothership, I’ll link it here but give you the short version. I was offered an album to review. I lost my fucking mind over it. I became, in a matter of seconds, a rabid fan. That’s all you need to know, going into this show review. I didn’t walk in unbiased, and yet still managed to find myself gobsmacked, once again, in a matter of seconds.
Prior to Dance Gavin Dance taking the stage, the crowd dynamic changed tangeably. This band of fans, properly fluffed and amped by the opening acts, lit up. It’s hard to describe what I experienced, tucked safely away on the balcony above the stage, my camera poised to react to the first sighting of Tilian. There was a new energy emerging from the floor. Guys were reckless in their enthusiasm. Girls were standing at attention, barring themselves from the inevitable last minute general admission ticket holder (please don’t be that dick that shows up late and attempts to “excuse me” your way in front of fans who staked their vantage point hours earlier). Chants of “Young Robot” rose up from the crowd multiple times. High fives were handed out and stories were shared as we waited anxiously for their set to start. I secretly prayed they would open their set the same way they opened Mothership, so when that drum kick hit, and the crowd went wild, I too screamed “Give me that canvas, let me paint some shit” before turning my lens to the stage.
Tilian came out with crutches and a pretty impressive leg brace. In spite of the apparent injury he was, I’m told by long time fans perched nearby, in full form. Full form for Tilian is passion; he is over the top evidently in love with his music. He swoons to the sounds of his bandmates, caresses up his arm as he sinks into the song (it’s okay, Tilian, we all feel the same way when you sing). It’s infectious the way he smiles, sways, and gets lost in his lyrics. Speaking of lyrics, let’s talk about Jon Mess. One of the grandest things about DGD is Jon Mess’s poetry. I have friends who are not fans of screaming vocals. “Why is he yelling? Why is he angry?” However, text them one snippet from any DGD song and they’ll inevitably tell me how amazing the lyrics are. This is why I love his delivery. He releases the emotion I’m forced to contain, and there is beauty beneath the “Mess-y vocals.” By the way, Jon, I think you should trademark that moniker.
After three songs I gleefully put my camera away and get ready to hit the floor. Earlier my daughter had said to me repeatedly, “Be careful, Mom. Be careful.” I scoffed at the notion that I could not handle myself on the floor. After all, I survived a ska pit in Philly and a metal pit in Vegas. This venue doesn’t even permit crowd surfing! How bad could it be? That’s when I noticed the small floor in the tiny venue was alive with movement. Frenzied fans had formed a singular unit, swaying together, moving in unison, then against each other as circle pits formed here, then there, then got absorbed into the mass of bodies once more. I opted to enjoy the rest of the show from my perch, singing each lyric of every song I know, and celebrating with the fans to my left and right. They’re singing too. They’re cheering and smiling and feeling. And it occurs to me that this is another facet of this amazing band. In this collective of disjunct thoughts and raw emotion is the purity of feeling something. This is what they gift to us. This jumbled emotive presentation is like ripping pages from all your friends’ diaries and trying to piece them back together into one novel. You may not get it all, but you love it because you love them and it just makes sense, somehow.
Exhausted we end the night, emotionally spent and instantly wishing we could watch them paint the canvas one more time. It’s that DGD magic, and it’s a poison I’d hit again gladly.
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