Post-Hardcore Act Dance Gavin Dance Goes Instrumental in Release of New Version of Jackpot Juicer.
Although many bands come and go, there are a select few that are able to maintain staying power. Dance Gavin Dance is an American rock band hailing from Sacramento, California that has managed to do just that. Now, they’re back with an instrumental version of their 2022 album Jackpot Juicer, and bringing their unique mix of post-hardcore and progressive rock into a new year.
Although the band’s members have changed over the years, it currently consists of lead guitarist Will Swan and drummer Matthew Mingus who have appeared on all of the band’s albums since forming in 2005. Alongside Swan and Mingus are vocalists Jon Mess and Tilian Pearson, and rhythm guitarist Andrew Wells. After forming in 2005, Dance Gavin Dance released their debut EP Whatever I Say Is Royal Ocean in 2006, before releasing their debut album Downtown Battle Mountain in 2007. The band would go on to amass a number of albums, with four top-twenty albums in the US. They are one of the most consistent and popular acts in the post-hardcore scene. 2022 saw the release of their most recent album, Jackpot Juicer, in July. The album would prove to be one of their most commercially successful to date, landing the band in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200. The album was preceded by the release of the singles “Synergy” feat. Rob Damiani of Don Broco, “Pop Off”, “Die Another Day”, “Cream of The Crop” and “Feels Bad Man”. Since its release, the album has notched 68 million streams and 8.2 million YouTube views.
Dance Gavin Dance’s music pulls from a deep pool of genres, combining progressive rock, post-hardcore, math rock, and even jazz fusion. Although they’re often compared to peers like The Fall of Troy and Alexisonfire, their experimental approach to songwriting and sprawling musical soundscapes are more in line with bands like The Mars Volta. Their music features gloriously tight riffs, intentionally unformulaic song structures, and an all-hands-on-deck, high-octane energy. Their unrelenting pace has kept fans interested and clamoring for their music for over 15 years, and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be slowing down any time soon.
After the success of Jackpot Juicer, Dance Gavin Dance decided to give fans a treat over the holiday season when they released Jackpot Juicer (Instrumental). As the name suggests, it is an instrumental version of their 2022 album. The album highlights Dance Gavin Dance’s tight, complex instrumentation. It seethes with verve in a way that makes listeners forget there were lyrics to these songs in the first place.
The album opens with “Untitled 2,” a string number that serves as a red herring for the direction of the album. Its slow build is the prelude to the head-banging intensity of the next song, “Cream of the Crop.” Some songs hit the ground running, but “Cream of the Crop” feels like it’s off to a full sprint before its feet have even hit the ground, with Dance Gavin Dance’s signature skittering guitar riffs and manic bass drum lines. The song smartly incorporates an element of the strings from “Untitled 2” in sections, sowing a connective thread between the two songs.
On “Synergy,” Dance Gavin Dance show off their chemistry as a band, jumping between head-banging breakdowns with crashing cymbals and a series of high-energy guitar riffs. Swan and Wells’ dueling guitars complement each other perfectly, alternating between the squealing, technical lead guitar and some gnarly rhythm guitar that adds teeth to the track.
“Pop Off” is another track that begins with a high-energy opening section that sees both guitarists traversing octaves skillfully in high-octane, technical lines, before opening out into a more lush, airy sound. The guitars echo across the soundscape that now has room to breathe, but that breath is short-lived, as the band dives right back into high-speed riffs and drum patterns.
Dance Gavin Dance have grown in their songwriting and has learned how to build tension into their songs really well. This is no more apparent than in “Die Another Day” which starts off with beautiful, echoing guitars trading two plucking lines that weave in and out of each other. Then the drums come crashing in and the now-distortion-laden guitars screech like the post-hardcore version of a computer malfunctioning. Crisp synchronized timing between the guitar, drums, and bass, as the band modulates time signature leads into a killer drum break. Accompanying guitar distortion underneath another technical guitar riff drives the last third of the song as a symphony of building intensity until the final sendoff with wailing guitars.
This instrumental version of Jackpot Juicer really allows the instrumentation to shine and encourages the listener to listen to the intricate synchronicity between the band members as they speed effortlessly through keys, time signatures, octaves, and brain-melting riffs. It begs listeners to go back and listen to 2022’s Jackpot Juicer and hear the two side-by-side. Check out both versions of Jackpot Juicer, as well as the rest of Dance Gavin Dance’s discography.