It’s a freezing cold Sunday afternoon, this is my third train journey today, and I won’t be home until “I’ll be tired at work” o’clock. Whatever is on the other side of this trip has to be something spectacular!
Luckily we’re talking “once in a lifetime” spectacular: Sacramento post-hardcore veterans Dance Gavin Dance, with all of their current and past vocalists singing their own songs spanning the band’s spectacular 10 year career.
First up is a solo set from former Dance Gavin Dance and A Lot Like Birds vocalist Kurt Travis, bringing a voice warm enough to make up for the cold outside. His set is a straightforward one, filled with beautiful melodies but fairly simple songwriting, overall a nice way to start off the evening. His stage presence is warm as well, and almost vulnerable in its reserved and grateful nature; something that’s reflected in his on and off-stage persona through the evening.
Jonny Craig is up next, supported by Kurt on the guitar, and he brings his signature RnB stylings to both his own songs and a few covers, including a glorious version of Justin Timberlake‘s “Cry Me A River” which includes enough vocal flurries to fill several seasons of American Idol auditions. His stage presence is slightly more “rock star” than Kurt’s, which brings an interesting insight into the inner workings of DGD through the years.
Up next are Good Tiger who, despite their all-star line-up, fail to be an Excellent Tiger and stay true to their name; good but not great. There’s nothing inherently wrong in their set but, just like their album Head Full of Moonlight, the set is lacking something to have the staying power of each of the members´respective previous bands. Vocalist Elliot Coleman nails his impressive vocal lines while dancing around like a wacky inflatable arm flailing tube man in a way that only he (and Sweet Dee Reynolds) can, which gives the set a certain flair that would have been missing completely if he was as static as the rest of the band. Admittedly the rest of the band has some challenging material to play so they’re lucky to have a frontman as entertaining to watch as Elliot.
Finally we have the band of the hour, Dance Gavin Dance! Starting off with current vocalist Tillian Person, the band launch into Mothership opener “Chucky Vs The Giant Tortoise“, followed by “Stroke God Millionaire” from Instant Gratification; a great way to kick off the night and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Tillian has confidently stepped into a role steeped in a lot of anticipation by DGD fans around the world.
After a few more recent songs, including “On The Run” and “Betrayed By The Game” we get something that no one, including Kurt Travis himself, expected to see again: “Tree Village” and “Carl Barker” performed live with the Happiness line-up together again. An emotional moment for sure for both Kurt and several audience members (I swear I just had something in my eye) but after a quick visit from the English Alex, it’s time for Mr Craig to once again grace the stage.
Diving into a trio of songs he originally graced with his voice, culminating in a rendition of “And I Told Them I Invented Times New Roman” Jonny proves he’s only gotten better through the years, as Kurt proved about himself only 20 minutes earlier.
The whole set has had the whole room singing along and dancing but after the three-way vocal assault of “Uneasy Hearts Weigh The Most” the band plays the song that gets the most powerful audience participation of the evening: “We Own The Night“, proving beyond any doubt (as if anyone in the room has doubts) that this night most certainly belongs to Dance Gavin Dance.