For those jostling for position in the crowded fields of hardcore, metal and the intersectional …
DANCE GAVIN DANCE w/ Veil Of Maya (US) & Belle Haven
Tuesday 26th February, 2019
The Brightside, Brisbane
Foregoing the mid-week drudgery that comes with your standard Tuesday evening, we begin by waiting in line outside The Brightside amongst a sea of dedicated fans for tonight’s Seppo double header.
It takes a while to get through the ID-check shuffle, weathering the casual judgement from thoroughly disinterested security personnel, before we’re in the beer garden and stepping in the venue proper.
Aussie road-dogs Belle Haven kick things off with a short yet no-less furious set of 2000s-flavoured metalcore bangers. There’s a decent crowd watching them do their thing from the outset, however for the most part, it seems to be a very sleepy audience this evening. The Melbourne four piece take this in their stride though, comfortably working through tracks from 2017’s well-received You, Me and Everything In Between.
We feel like vocalist David De La Hoz has had a few protein shakes since we saw them last, as he looks surprising buff in his striped shirt, complemented by the veins bulging out of his neck with every raw scream during visceral cuts like Little Polaroid Boy and The Carving Knife. Guitarist Christopher Vernon flails about like a marionette with cut strings throughout the catchy Selfmade, which elicits a few cursory head-bangs from eager patrons in the crowd. As their set winds down, De La Hoz shouts out their tour mates for bringing them along for the ride and leads tonight’s audience in a well-mannered ring of cheers and applause.
Next up, Chicago outfit Veil Of Maya take to the stage and begin immediately throwing down heavy, molten slabs of what I’m calling ‘futuristic glitch metal’. Trust me, it’ll catch on. Not sold? Alright, imagine what metalcore would sound like if it was played by a militia of sentient, uprising-inclined robots, diligently sampling modem dial tones and the entire Fear Factory industrial catalogue in an attempt to overthrow the established order. Still not convinced? Bassist Danny Hauser is rocking a ludicrously huge, headstock-less seven-string axe this evening, which makes it look like he’s slapping some poor kid’s long board. Meanwhile guitarist Marc Okubo is clad in a delightful WHAM! T-shirt, and spends the majority of the set riffing out with his metronomic pick hand and the accuracy of a Swiss watch. Are these not actions characteristic of human-machine hybrids? We rest our case.
Working through deep cuts from the band’s most recent album, False Idol, even the monstrous, bludgeoning grooves of Whistleblower and Doublespeak sound like they’re buffering mid-song. It’s heavy, it’s djentle at times (see what I did there?) and yet the crowd reaction overall seems slightly confused. When it’s time to head bang and pogo-mosh, the Brissy crowd is right up there with the best of them; at other times the entire venue appears trapped in amber. Between tracks, vocalist Lukas Magyar does his best to psych everyone up, but even he can’t help from quipping that, “You guys look more tired than I am.” Take that, jet-lag. Magyar also tries in earnest to make a ‘Wall of Death’ happen at one point, with the end result being a little too sad and depressing for a mid-week rock show.
When the group drops into more uplifting tracks from 2015’s Matriarch, things do spark up a little, most notably on ragers like Nyu and Leeloo. Magyar also does an admirable job of pairing his raspy screams with high-notes and clean vocals, and the crowd takes him up on his many invitations to sing along. Fan favourite Punisher gets a throwback mention, before the band close out with hit single Mikasa which, if we’re being completely honest, is still a dead-set banger and sports one of the most infectious chorus melodies in recent memory. Nice one djents.
Moving on to our main event, the tension and apprehension in the venue is noticeably palpable and thick on the tongue. Actually, wait … that might just be the condensation dripping down the walls, the stinging musk of collective B.O. and the steam rising off the floor crowd with every sweep of a coloured stage light. Dance Gavin Dance fans are notoriously devoted and territorial, and tonight’s gathering provides many dedicated and over-zealous specimens. As the band runs through a brief gear swap and sound-check, there’s intermittent squeals of rapture and delight down front as this member or that member takes to the stage to do their job. Only to walk back stage, remerge through a side door, and start the process all over again. It’s fascinating stuff.
However, when the lights dim and clean vocalist/dreamboat heart-throb Tilian Pearson walks on stage, there’s a pronounced and audible swoon from practically everyone in attendance. With a new album to showcase, the sextet get down to business and smash through the opening triumvirate of 2018’s excellent Artificial Selection. Tracks like Son of Robot and Midnight Crusade demonstrate why DGD are one of (if not the most) formidable ensemble in post-hardcore today, with absolutely gorgeous melodies and delicate instrumentation all rendered tight and lush for tonight’s enthralled Brisbane crowd. In contrast to Pearson’s lofty mix of falsetto and aspirate tones, unclean vocalist Jon Mess provides consistent and piercing screams to punctuate the air, particularly on Frozen One and the band’s roaring delivery of Suspended in This Disaster. As he stands in lock step on stage left for most of the set, Mess reminds us (rather uncannily) of Lil Dicky’s XXL freestyle on a purely physical level.
With a little gift for their Aussie fans, DGD decide to unveil a new track for live debut, jumping into a downright funky rendition of Count Bassy. Bassist Tim Feerick cheekily smiles and slaps his strings like the posterior of a significant other, while guitar virtuoso Will Swan uses Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise to litter the airwaves with intricate sweeps, noodley riffs, finger taps and arpeggios, proving once and for all that he deserves the title of Alt Yngwie Malmsteen. Single Summertime Gladness finds home in tonight’s crowd, with plenty of smiles around (including drummer Matt Mingus’ bearded mug) and Flossie Dickey Bounce gets the front rows up and down in hypnotic rhythm. At one point during the band’s solid set, someone appears to drop from front of stage, being possibly injured, and the crowd parts visibly. After the song, Pearson remarks, “I thought someone had died, but they were just looking for glasses. You guys are so polite. What the fuck?” Straya mate.
Leaving surprises for the set’s end, the band dive right back in for a classic track from a classic album, in the form of Lemon Meringue Tie (also the name of drink special this evening; well played The Brightside) and 2007’s Downtown Battle Mountain. Of the track, Pearson describes it as “Older than me and older than Andrew [Wells, rhythm guitarist]”: a cheeky reminder of the band’s near 15-year legacy and notoriously rotating line-up. Closing out with explosive performances of We Own The Night and Inspire the Liar, the crowd aren’t having any of it and literally no one moves to leave, as if to force an encore through sheer will alone. Thankfully, such dedication is duly rewarded when the band return to deliver Evaporate, a curious choice given its position as album closer for Artificial Selection. In another live debut, DGD prove that they’re truly masters of their craft, with flawless transitions, mind-melting progressions and dazzling vocal interplay from Pearson, Mess and Wells. Breathtaking stuff. When people say leave the best for last, clearly DGD don’t fuck around.
Dance Gavin Dance remaining tour dates:
Tuesday 28th Feb // Sydney // SOLD OUT
Friday 1st March // Newcastle // SOLD OUT
Saturday 2nd March // Melbourne // SOLD OUT
Monday 4th March // Adelaide // SOLD OUT
Tuesday 5th March // Perth //
Tickets available from Destroy All Lines