Dance Gavin Dance (DGD) cannot be put into any boxes as their style of music is a spectacular fusion of rock, hardcore, screamo, blues and jazz all rolled into one package. DGD who originated from Sacramento in the United States, are renowned for their interesting and somewhat strange lyrics, frenetic tempo changes and soaring choruses that stick in your head. Their song titles are also some of the most creative aspects of the band.
The band has also had three vocalists in its existence as well as numerous line-up changes. The only two constant members of the band are guitarist, Will Swan and drummer, Matt Mingus. The band currently consists of Jon Mess (unclean vocals), Matt Mingus (drums), Will Swan (lead guitar), Tim Feerick (bass) and Tilian Pearson (clean vocals)
Honourable mentions: Carl Barker, I Told Them I invented Times New Roman, NASA, Inspire the Liars, Young Robot, The Robot With Human Hair Part 2 ½, Me and Zoloft Get Along Just Fine, We Own The Night
5) The Jiggler (2013 – Acceptance Speech)
The Jiggler is one of those unique songs that perfectly illustrates DGD’s schizophrenic musical nature. The song opens with an absolutely groovy guitar riff from Swan before the songs kick into gear with Jon Mess belting out his screams as he sings ‘I’m sick of twisting the knobs, your little baby’s a slob, I wanna love you but this house ain’t built for two,’ as Pearson lends his clean vocals to the next part of the verse.
There is no real verse-chorus structure in this song and the crazy metal riff in the middle of the song is a great example of that. The song instantly switches from a jazzy feel to an ultimate doom with frenetic guitar and screams: ‘I’m still raging from the sanction you placed upon the impoverished nations. Delusions of grandeur, have some patience. Hold my f**kin body back.’
The song is something to be heard.
4) Alex English (2008 Self Titled)
The intro guitar riff sets the scene for this song as it almost gives you a sense that something big is about to happen. The band does not disappoint as Mess screams the following lyrics at the top of his lungs: ‘Stop! The first one to hit the cop wins. His death was so obvious. Make up the things that you did.’ This typifies DGD’s lyrical style as the poetry continues as former vocalist Kurt Travis and Mess trade lyrics as soft and loud vocals intertwine at rocket speed.
Swan’s guitar playing and Mingus’ drumming is also amazing in the verse as it keeps the pace with some unique riffs and interesting fills.
The best part of the song is the slowed down bridge, which juxtaposes with the entire song and brings the song to a perfect halt. ‘Just keep your arms around me and I won’t let your body touch, won’t let it touch the ground. Just keep your eyes on me and let me be your gravity.’ It is probably one of the best lyrics and musical pieces that the band has ever produced.
3) Tree Village (2009 – Happiness)
‘What excuses do you make? Happiness is hard to find. I didn’t catch a break. Maybe I am dying inside?’ This is how this song from DGD’s album ‘Happiness’ starts off before the band explodes into the song through a mixture of melodic and harsh vocals as Swan shows off his skills on the microphone in addition to some mind blowing riffs on the guitar. The bridge is also one of the best parts of the song as Swan’s guitar and Matt Mingus’ drumming are on point with a brilliant buildup before the crazy and chaotic outro hits your eardrums.
2) Awkward (2015 – Instant Gratification)
Tillian Person makes this song his own with amazing high notes and vocal shifts in this song from Instant Gratification. Swan also comes to the party with a really catchy riff as Pearson sings: ‘I want to be somebody. Now, slow your roll. Keep your head low. Your life is a joke. Don’t make this awkward.’
The song also consists of various interesting parts and psychedelic guitar passages that showcase this bands’ versatility. In true DGD style the band shifts into something more hardcore as Mess screams: ‘I flipped that maggot out. I sniffed that dragon’s brow. I say I’m feelin’ when everyone is on my side. We think we’re relevant hey, we think we’re being admired.’ Another lyric out of Mess’ weird poetry book.
1) Lemon Meringue Tie (2007 – Downtown Battle Mountain)
This is DGD’s piece ‘De Resistance’ and the song that I would recommend anyone to listen to in order to see what this band is all about. You get the bluesy bass riffs, the crooning voice of former vocalist, Jonny Craig and the guttural harsh vocals of Jon Mess in a perfect mix of caution and aggression.
The chorus is the best part of the song where Craig shows his amazing vocal skills with ‘And I don’t know why. I don’t know why I fight for you this way. Fight for you this way.’ The idea of a dysfunctional relationship and the trouble it causes is one of the main themes in the song. The post chorus where Mess goes crazy is also one of the highlights. Perfection from Dance Gavin Dance.