I've always wanted to start a piece of writing this way, and now I finally can...
It was a dark and stormy night (no really, it was.) And on this dreary, December 18, while movie theaters around the country were packed with sold out crowds gearing up to see the next chapter in the Star Wars saga, roughly one thousands kids packed into the sweatbox sized room that is The Catalyst's Atrium room to celebrate ten years of one of the scene's biggest household names in progressive metalcore: Dance Gavin Dance. The band, who I don't believe have ever had the same lineup twice, took the stage around 11 PM, and the crowd went off. Co-vocalists Tillian Pearson (clean vocals) and Jon Mess (unclean vocals) held a visceral grip on the crowd, screaming every word in unison, the crowd knowing their every move. The set went on until the wee hours of the night, showcasing material from all six of their albums.
The night was kicked off with two openings sets by Salinas, California's own Strawberry Girls, a unique brand of instrumental rock, and SoCal's own Dayshell. Watching the trio play for just twenty minutes is mesmerizing. They're damn good at their instruments and what they do, and what they do is a statement that just because your a band does not mean you need a vocalist to win over a crowd. Dayshell may have been one of the most anticipated sets of the evening, as many fans have been looking forward to seeing what vocalist Shayley Bourget (the former clean vocalist for Of Mice & Men) would be bringing to the world, post-OM&M. The band's set didn't disappoint with their unique brand of rock.
Perhaps my most anticipated (and it paid off) set of the evening was from Sacramento's own A Lot Like Birds. The moment the six-piece starts, the crowd erupts. Not a single word from their catalogue was left un-screamed during the 35-minute set. Co-vocalists Cory Lockwood and Kurt Travis, much in the spirit of DGD, commanded the crowd with an indescribable energy, while Michael Franzino and Ben Wiacek tapped away at various riffs on their guitars, Joseph Arrington beat the crap out of his drums, and Matt Coate grooved infectious rhythm lines on the bass. If their set was any indication as to how their upcoming fourth studio album is going to sound, expect an unabashedly wild ride.
Prior to Dance Gavin Dance's set was Slaves, which was probably the most highly-anticipated set from the fans' perspective. Once upon a time, vocalist Jonny Craig was in Dance Gavin Dance. Due to personal problems, he left. Then he came back. Aaaaaaand then he departed again. But after that departure, he went and formed Slaves, a band that truly showcases the vocal talent and range that Craig is able to bring. People can say whatever they want about Craig's personal life and demons, but there is absolutely no denying that he is a powerhouse of a vocalist.
And yet, as the rain poured down outside, beating against the windows of The Catalyst, the fans only grew more excited as each band took the stage throughout the evening, culminating in a frenzy induced finale from Dance Gavin Dance and friends.
This has been another Shameless Promotion.