Dance Gavin Dance, I See Stars, Erra & Sianvar
The Majestic Theatre – Detroit, MI – 6.14.2018
Photographer: Robert Sherman
For as long as I have been writing about music and photographing musicians, I have only “fanboy-ed” twice in my career. The first was Fall Out Boy, the second was Architects, but on Thursday night, Dance Gavin Dance performed to a sold out Majestic Theatre and made me step back and marvel the opportunity I was given on that night.
I have been listening to Dance Gavin Dance since the bands inception. Through the thirteen member changes, the drama of Jonny Craig, the departure (and return) of unclean vocalist Jon Mess, two incredible albums with clean vocalist Kurt Travis, and the recruiting of the gifted Tilian Pearson to take that permanent frontman role; I have listened to this band’s artistry religiously.
Having released their eighth studio album, Artificial Selection, on June 8, it’s more than obvious that this version of Dance Gavin Dance is here to stay. Artificial Selection is the fourth album by the group to feature both Pearson and Mess on vocals, marking consistency that has provided plenty benefits for not only the band, but their fans.
That being said, it’s very rare that Dance Gavin Dance tours to this side of the country, and when a Detroit stop was announced, I was more than excited to not only see one of my favorite bands in the midst of hitting their stride, but also getting to photograph them was a dream come true.
While in the photo pit, I caught myself marvelling at the legendary guitar playing of founding member (and only one of two members of the band to have been there from its start) Will Swan. You can hear the magic he creates with a guitar on their records, but it’s another experience to see the man dialed in, eyes closed, playing the riffs that have come to define his band.
Unclean vocalist Jon Mess is perhaps the most clinical “screamer” in the scene. His live vocals are almost identical to studio versions of his work, and he makes it seem so very easy.
Dance Gavin Dance are not the most “entertaining” band when it comes to stage presence, but what they seem to lack in showmanship, they more than compensate for with quality in their live performance. Every song is played with the passion and precision that you hear on their records. The music is being played so well and cleanly that they don’t need their frontmen to be jumping around or climbing things.
Playing through a set of tracks like “We Own The Night,” “Chucky vs. the Giant Tortoise,” “Frozen One,” “Flossy Dickie Bounce,” as well as new tracks “Summertime Gladness,” “Midnight Crusade,” and “Care”.
Will Swan’s side project, Sianvar, opened the night. Sianvar is considered a “supergroup” and is comprised of Donovan Melero of Hail The Sun on vocals, Swan of Dance Gavin Dance on guitar, as well as members of Stolas and A Lot Like Birds rounding out the lineup.
Direct support was provided by Detroit’s own I See Stars, as well as Erra.