If you're a fan of Post-Hardcore it's been hard not to stumble across Dance Gavin Dance and their guitarist Will Swan's notorious Blue Swan Records. Splashing onto the scene with band after band of the most unique sounds to come out since the mid 2000's explosion, Will has been able to put his stamp on every bit of work while playing some of the most unique guitar this generation has seen.
After the labels first annual SwanFest that held an all-star lineup including We Came As Romans, Crown the Empire, Volumes and Periphery, it was set for Dance Gavin Dance to take Periphery and other SwanFest acts on the road for The Artificial Selection Tour with DON BROCO, Hail the Sun, and Covet. The same floor that Dance Gavin Dance graced with Underoath a handful of months ago for the Erase Me Tour was set at Brooklyn Bowl for another go, and it was as packed as it could get!
Starting off the night were the unique instrumentals of Covet. With a tame tone that could be mistaken for Animals As Leaders B-Side cuts, they were a calming start to get a special night going. Capping off with their San Holo colab “shibyua” and then their album efforesce's ending track 'howl”.
Hail The Sun
Next were Blue Swan Records alumni Hail The Sun to pick things up in a vocally impressive way. Along with what I can only now describe as swany guitar, they started up the movement with songs like “Glass: Half Empty” and “Black Serotonin” that laid the way for the dance party coming up next with DON BROCO.
The excitement these guys bring over from England is something everyone should take the time to appreciate. A microphone held by a guy who looks like Freddie Mercury without the mustache but with just as many moves led a band of just as restless instrumentals.
The sound DON BROCO makes is one of those guilty pleasures that you'll listen to in your car alone and dance your ass off! An electronic background behind some loose bass strings and sliding guitar guide through songs like the Thriller-esk “Everybody” and the catchy sarcastic pleads in “Come Out To LA” that have been stuck in my head since.
After everyone’s legs were warmed up it was time to throw them in the air for the evenings heavier sounds with Periphery. If you're like me and haven't heard much of Periphery, now's the time to get on board with this genre breaking powerhouse.
The djent is strong in these ones! It wasn't until the end of their set, during the ground stomping “Blood Eagle”, that I noticed their wasn't even a bass being played, only three guitars! All three most likely had more than six stings so it was easy for them to blend lows without needing to adjust anything.
Periphery's set wasn't long but it sure did pack a punch and leave the crowd ready for the biggest swan in the pond to take the stage. Dance Gavin Dance's last set with Underoath was one of the most energetic and talent-packed performances I'd seen in 2018, so exceptions were high, and ultimately met in the first song.
Dance Gavin Dance
With the artwork for Artificial Selection draped behind them, and the tour being for the album, it was no surprise or displeasure that they started off with the opening track “Son of Robot”, crossing all the instruments with swany riffs, on-point rough vocals, and the cleanest melody coming from Tilian that could melt the soul, or at the same time make you feel the way this security guard did:
Following up on the tours album were others like Mothership's intro track “Chucky vs. The Giant Tortoise”, but they would eventually travel back to cap the night off with Artificial Selection's ending “Evaporate”.
Vocals like this may not be your cup of tea, but history tells different for falsettos that get as high as Dance Gavin Dance and so many others in the industry. Where the Catholic Church once had to go to extreme measure to get choir boys to these levels, we've been able to recognize the rawness that bands like AFI with Davey Havok, Sleeping With Sirens' with Kellin Quinn, and even Dance Gavin Dance's former clean vocalist Johnny Craig who's been with seemingly every band in the scene.
The evolution we saw that started this fascination will only grow with the inspiration these bands are putting out. It's only a matter of time before the next Blue Swan Records is started and infects the scene with new and exciting material.
One thing is certain. We'll be here to tell you about it!
Photo Credit: All photos by Courtney Ware for ZrockR Magazine 2019, All Rights Reserved.