SWANFEST: A Memorial of Tim Feerick As Festival Lineup Performs in Honor of Swancore Legend
California’s aptly named “Swancore” and metal festival, SWANFEST, curated and headlined by Dance Gavin Dance, has returned after a two year-long wait. The festival was due to return for a second year in 2020, bigger and better. Unfortunately, the pandemic impacted the event’s scheduling, and the date was pushed to Saturday, April 23rd, 2022 at the band’s hometown of Sacramento to celebrate the start of the next leg of their United States tour.
Since their inception in 2005, Dance Gavin Dance has steadily built a huge cult following. Blending complex instrumentation with poppy choruses and raw, aggressive screams, they have fathered an entire genre of their own characterized by a signature combination of post-hardcore, math-rock, progressive-rock, and post-rock. The festival was then born from the idea of “Swancore,” named after the band’s guitarist, Will Swan, and his record label, Blue Swan Records.
Just over a week before the tour was set to begin, the music world was overwhelmed by the loss of Dance Gavin Dance’s bassist, Tim Feerick, who had been a part of the band for ten years and a close friend of many in the SWANFEST and Rise Records family. Shortly after his passing, the band decided to continue things as usual because, as they stated, “The main factor of this decision came from knowing who Tim was as a person and what he would have wanted…”
Read the full statement below:
On Saturday, April 23rd, Dance Gavin Dance kickstarted their tour at this year’s SWANFEST with a memorial of Tim. Taking place at Heart Health Park in Sacramento, the nearly sold-out event offered a place of mourning upon the venue’s entrance. Hung up high, a photo of Tim bathed in stage lights hung proudly, tall, and first in sight for all to pay their respects as they saw fit.
Throughout the day, the performances occurred as usual, and many band members made statements about Tim; how kindhearted he was, and how much of a good friend he was. Each band performed to their fullest capabilities in honor of him and who he was as a person.
Keep reading to see more about the performances that occurred throughout the day, along with some photos highlighting the experience.
Moon Tooth began the day with their signature melodic sound, giving fans a quick look into what their performance as a part of the later tour dates will offer. Fans cheered for them as they poured in from the entrance, smiles glued to their faces as the sun began to hit its peak in the shining warmth of spring. The four-man band gave it their all throughout the set, instilling excitement for the remainder of the day.
Fire From The Gods then easily filled the large stage with their wild presence. Creating an intense fusion of metal and rap, screams churned from within before blending effortlessly into deep rap verses that spoke to the soul and instilled a catharsis many needed.
Royal Coda‘s crowd swelled in close as fans yearned for the listening experience and first performance from the band in over two years. The front man, Sacramento local Kurt Travis, known by every local involved in the scene, joined the stage and was met with loud cheers. Along with the soaring and impressive vocals, Will Swan effortlessly performed guitar alongside Sergio Medina– who ran across the stage and released every pent up fiber from within. And fans were the first to witness the performance of new song, “Even If,” which was released earlier this year.
Kublai Khan, from Texas, have been rising in the metal scene since their impressively heavy sound began in 2009. The band’s thrashing energy infected the crowd as the first mosh pits of the day formed. One of the two lead vocals proudly showcased jeans, cowboy boots, and a baseball cap as his screams chilled the audience into a cool from the now blazing sun.
To all my meat in the middle, let your n*ts hang out.
~ Kublai Khan TX
SeeYouSpaceCowboy offered a refreshing performance with their unique look and sound. This Northern California-based band introduced a mix of intense, higher octave unclean vocals and a hardcore emo sound. Their band name honors the end title cards of the 90s anime, Cowboy Bebop, and remains an inspiration for their sound. The anime’s theme song blared in the background as they joined the stage with widened grins on their faces. The performance itself instilled an emotional, raw experience in their honest lyrics and intensely captivating sound, while also escalating things with perfectly frenzied motions and dance.
Born of Osiris, too, has been rising in the metal scene. A new album from late last year, and tour currently underway, inspires fans to show their support in the project’s uniquely enthralling messages, beginning in 2013 with the concepts that life is merely a simulation. With their latest release, they capture the contrast between good and evil and everything in-between in a series of intense keyboarding, heavy breakdowns, and thrashing vocals. And their performance produced an escape from the every day.
It can’t be said enough that our love of Eidola ramped up our excitement for this year’s SWANFEST. Andrew Wells leads in the chase with an emotionally captivating performance, particularly in the project’s newest album, The Architect, and the performances of the tracks from that release. Encapsulating intensely personal and raw experiences from the front man himself, the vocals further set aflame those feelings and created a safe place for anyone who can relate to personal traumas. Newest addition to the band, Sergio, showcased his talents here, too; much like in his performance with Royal Coda, though the chemistry between him and Andrew could not have been matched.
Thank you, to everyone here, for coming and memorializing Tim in the way he would have wanted to be…
~ Andrew Wells
Los Angeles quartet, Volumes, came next; filling the main stage with a soothing calm contrasted with an energy enveloped the entire stage. The tracks they performed from their setlist defied the rules of genre. Vocalists joined the crowd and surfed as fans gently held them high and proud.
Covet‘s instrumentals were a wave of peace amidst the storming emotions of the day. Each of the three members of the band lost themselves in the performance, fully taking in the experience with smiles peeled wide open.
Many crowd members looked forward to Veil of Maya‘s performance. Each note and sound vibrated within the bones, and the vocals were echoed loudly by the fans as they released all that was pent up from within themselves. The drum performance further ramped up the energy with heavy breakdowns as an impressive array of instrumentals and vocals soared through the veins.
Chico-based post-hardcore band, Hail the Sun, were a crowd favorite as the growing audience was lured in upon hearing their sound begin. Lead vocalist, Donovan Melero, thrust his mic stand into the air, threw it wildly around the stage, before leaning in close and reaching for the members of the crowd. He interacted with a meaningful gaze to every person he could meet eyes with as instrumentals and drums pounded.
“Let’s get some crowd surfing going, I wanna smell ya!” he declared, and was met with a wave of rolling laughter before the crowd, too, became a part of the performance. To slow the pace, he took over on drums and complimented the sound with his own vocals before concluding the set with a more furious energy than before.
Anthony Green, lead vocalist of Circa Survive, showcased his solo project next. Playing electric guitar, his vocals were held on display and echoed effortlessly across the park.
I wanna dedicate this to anyone who’s sick and suffering out there. You ain’t alone, bubby.
~ Anthony Green
Back from a hiatus, A Skylit Drive offered an emotional performance and a short reprieve with heavy breakdowns and intensely relatable lyrics that helped them rise in the emo scene.
We are so humbled and excited to be here… is this a VR experience? It just doesn’t feel real.
~ A Skylit Drive
The band played fan favorites, as well as their latest release, which introduced fans new and old to what’s to come next.
Movements then joined the stage, and their banner hung proud to showcase a bonsai tree and setting sun as they wrought emotions from within. Storytelling lyrics took the main stage as gentle pop punk contrasted a gentle energy, compared to that of the performances earlier in the day. As their concepts in their work arise relatable feelings and explore loss, love, concepts of mental health, they shone a light of clarity and catharsis throughout their performance.
Quickly-paced and effortlessly played instrumentals bathed the soundscape as The Fall of Troy celebrated their return from a hiatus in their melodic presentation to the energetic crowd. imbued with classic 2010s rock and a timeless atmosphere, the band’s talent over the years has only continued to grow.
Knocked Loose is best known for their intense crowds and uniquely performed energy and vocals. While continuing to encourage the crowd to let their crazy loose, the intensity continued to build as circle pits surrounded the park and crowd surfers bathed the landscape.
“This guy… the front man of the band. He is one of the best guitar players in the whole world, right there,” I overheard from the crowd before the performance of Animals as Leaders began.
The instrumental heavy rock artists showcased tracks old and well polished, to freshly released material just three weeks ago. Custom guitars blared in the ears and sent chills through the spine. Living fully up to the hype, crowd members screamed, “We aren’t worthy!” in between tracks as Tosin Abasi, the lead guitarist, grinned shyly. Then he continued, electrifying the stage with more intense guitar riffs that sang the bones into movement and waves of calm. Excitement for the headliners to come continued to build.
Dance Gavin Dance then ended the night on a strong note, centering their performance around the memorialization of Tim as they executed their act. Playing their newest song, “Synergy,” first. Fans quickly joined in to the now familiar lyrics as each member smiled somberly and gave it their all. The loss of their friend, their comrade, and their instrumental member of the family could be read in their decorum and stance.
Tilian’s voice broke in the middle of their set and Andrew Wells offered him a comforting hug. Fans continued to cheer, many also breaking into tears themselves as they joined in on the performance and sang the lyrics passionately word by word.
Vocalist Tilian Pearson made a statement on Twitter about his performance:
The crowd chanted with fervor, “Tim!” repeatedly in between each song. And Tilian’s voice began to shift, from his typical, crisp vocals, to something ripped open with grief and grit as he seemed to scream out to the world over the loss of his dear friend.
Dance Gavin Dance then left the stage for a short interlude. A new banner dropped as stage lights honed in on the backdrop of Tim’s portrait. A moment of silence rang across the entire park before the band rejoined the stage and began to perform again with vigor renewed. They finished the night off strong, hailing “We Own The Night” as the audience sang along.
Last Friday, Dance Gavin Dance announced the release date of their next full-length, JACKPOT JUICER, to be launched on July 29th on all streaming platforms. It will follow up to their biggest release to date, two years earlier. AFTERBURNER topped charts after debuting at #14 on the Billboard Top 200 with a digital-only release in 2020. Pre-orders for the upcoming release are available here.
If you’re interested in supporting Tim Feerick’s family for the costs of the funeral, check out this link for a GoFundMe. See the full SWANFEST gallery here, and stay tuned for more updates regarding Dance Gavin Dance.