The newly created Franklin Music Hall in Philadelphia hosted Post-hardcore linchpin Dance Gavin Dance to a sold out crowd on April 13th, 2019. Formerly known as Electric Factory, the venue was used in its past incarnation as host to the filming of live DVDs for bands Lamb of God, Yellowcard, and Underoath.
As I walked in, I immediately became captivated by the dark lights and haze of fog that spread from the center stage to the entrance doors. Watching DGD previously in Starland Ballroom, I enjoyed the stark differences of the two venues as the ominous setup in Philly accentuated the band’s penchant for melody and destruction.
Bands Covet, Hail the Sun, DON BROCO, and Periphery opened the night with an unapologetic attitude necessary for a Post-hardcore setting. Periphery in particular created a thunderous surge of energy that opened up mosh pits throughout the crowd. Weaving my way toward the front I realized quickly that this would be a struggle. Absorbing pressure from intensifying moshing during the height of Periphery, I managed to get behind the barricade as the band finished their set.
In the midst of a lengthy intermission, I became aware of my aching leg and the unknown sweat all over my shirt. As my pain and dehydration began to catch up with me, Dance Gavin Dance emerged and revived my descending energy. Opening with the gentle melody of “Son of Robot”, DGD set the crowd ablaze once Jon Mess’ screaming vocals kicked in. The Jekyll and Hyde like dynamic of lead singers Tilian Pearson and Mess were perfectly showcased throughout as each melody proved as impactful as each belting scream. “Count Bassy” invoked this best as its infectious outro had every fan singing wholeheartedly along.
I was initially let down in seeing the tracklist beforehand as I noticed the exclusion of recent hits such as “Inspire the Liars” and “Care.” However, new single “Head Hunter” and nostalgic anthem “Uneasy Hearts Weigh The Most” eradicated any hint of disappointment. Singing “Holy Sh*t she smells like heaven, been best friends since we were eleven” with an enigmatic sea of screaming fans is something I can’t fathom even now.
Behind Will Swan’s piercing guitar riffs, the other members expertly overflowed each wall of sound. As they closed their initial set with the unrelenting song “Man of the Year”, each fan yearned for one more song to send them out reeling. Coming back for their final song “Evaporate”, DGD succeeded in melting every face left in the crowd and ensured that everyone “got what they paid for.”
As fans shuffled out into the streets of Philadelphia, each person looked as if they had run a local marathon. Reuniting with friends who I had lost early in the night and seeing their drained faces gave me an odd sense of satisfaction. Dance Gavin Dance invoked their Post-hardcore roots with an undying intensity that no one could subside.
Live Review By: Matthew Gavidia