This weekend, on December 19th, Dance Gavin Dance took to their hometown streets of Sacramento California to perform Volume 2 of “Tree City Sessions.” In the middle of a pandemic, before their latest full length album, Afterburner, had a chance to take the stage, their latest US tour was cancelled, as was every show in the country.
Nine months later, the event coordinator, Danny Wimmer, as well as the band, couldn’t stand by and watch their beloved industry crumble at their feet. In a pre-show event, an hour before the stream was set to take place, ___ chatted with Danny Wimmer about his love for Sacramento. Since the Aftershock Festival, one of his passion projects, is based there, he has a specific place set in his heart for his “home away from home.” One day, when chatting with another event coordinator, they decided to try to shut down one of the city’s focal points, the Tower Bridge, to show off some hometown pride as Dance Gavin Dance performed a live show in the middle of it with a fan-chosen setlist.
As far as the performance goes, along with some surprises mixed in, the band stated that they tried to keep everything as unprocessed and like a real live set as possible. Available for another 72 hours after the set went live, the performance has broken through the storm of clouds and streamed sunlight and warmth on our weekend.
“Make this a party and be ready to have a good time,” clean vocalist, Tilian, said just moments before the show.
Introducing us to the world of Dance Gavin Dance, the show began with the last 10 seconds of the “Strawberry’s Wake” official music video, where guitarist, Will Swan, jumped out of a crashing airplane with a chihuahua wrapped in his arms. Tilian called out as the screen faded to black. Then the scene continues with an animation created in the art style of their album covers. Swan parachutes to the Tower Bridge and the other band members follow, after all being transformed into animals, to perform a set on the bridge for robots surrounding them.
Throughout the performance, my heart swelled with pride seeing my new home of Sacramento proudly on display. The Tower Bridge glowed beautifully in the background as the band performed their set. Their upbeat sound lightened up the damp mood of this rough year, shifting that atmosphere and lifted some of the heavy weight on the heart.
Tilian Pearson’s vocals are crisp and send chills to the spine. Andrew Wells joined in to feature backup vocals and guitar throughout the performance. Jon Mess held strong power stances as he effortlessly performed his screaming vocals. I would imagine the veins popping out of his head trying to hit the long and low screams but he made it appear as if it were the easiest thing ever. Will Swan’s skills on the guitar lit him aflame as the instrument seemed to sing its own tune. Each member showcased their skills and had a blast while doing it; all upping the game each song and feeding off of their energy while standing out on their own onstage. Jon and Tilian’s two unlike voices harmonize so uniquely; consistently pushing the boundaries of how to blend in clean with unclean vocals.
And the band saved their newest tracks for last. Their ninth full-length album, Afterburner, has been out since the middle of quarantine and hasn’t been performed live yet. “Strawberry’s Wake” had a rawness to it that was different compared to their previous tracks on their setlist. Followed with the concluding song, “Nothing Shameful,” the performance continued with some beautiful features and blending of instrumental elements as the capitol building glowed in the background post-sunset.
Though 2020 has offered its challenges threatening the music industry, over 16,000 people tuned in live to watch Dance Gavin Dance show off the pride of their hometown. Whenever shows do come back, I look forward to witnessing their live presence in person.