Dance Gavin Dance: Houston, TX 2021

Bear & Wolf, Eidola, Veil of Maya, Polyphia, and Dance Gavin Dance @ Warehouse Live in Houston, TX

Review by Vanessa Umanzor & Photography by Mattheu Cole

When the lead vocalist holds back a chuckle as an individual crowd surfs the waves of manic energy in a wheelchair, fans of Dance Gavin Dance know they are going in. Despite a 10:00 PM set time for their first of two back-to-back shows in Houston, Texas, at 5:30 the floor began to fill up before the first opener took the stage with many attendees of all ages openly wiggling into a good vantage point of the stage. Those who arrived “early” weren’t exactly rewarded for their efforts as the sold-out show was packed to the brim and made the distribution hectic as everyone made their way to get drinks, go to the bathrooms, and visit the merch table. As I settled into my spot I was pumped from the sound coming from the front.

The slated opening band was Wolf & Bear. This meant the 6:30 PM slot was the definition of eruption and meltdown. Not including the interlude Happy Birthday song for one of the members. The band half joked we didn’t know their name. Despite that being the complete truth for us not too familiar with the artist, it was a very sweet and heartwarming moment. After what didn’t feel like 25 minutes, the stage was turned over to the second opener, Eidola. The lead singer sang over its heavy-sounding guitars and drums, the lyrics and vocals were indecipherable (not necessarily a bad thing) as he moved around delivering a stage-warming set. The stage crew moved quickly afterward, moving mic stands, guitars, and the backdrop of the stage to aid the next raging members in both locating crucial gear and avoiding injury.

Meanwhile, I decided to stand in the merch line between sets. What turned into a 20-minute wait dragged on, but as I finally made it out, Veil of Maya finally appeared at 7:55 to a roaring ovation. They opened with “Visceral,” the rather abrasive new single released earlier this year in February. The lights flashed in spastic reds, blues, and purples. After testing the waters with that new song, it felt like the band had truly broken the sound barrier following it up with a passionate rendition of “Three-Fifty.” Next up was Polyphia to inflict some sensory overload. However, I will say I saw the band mellow out the crowd a bit with the sleek aura their music seems to have. Which I welcomed wholeheartedly as I almost passed out during their set from the mere intensity of it being my first concert since the 2020 Covid-19 shutdown.

As the set wound down, the anticipation of the Dance Gavin Dance reached an all-time high. Guests that night made their last-minute runs to get drinks and the bathroom. Then finally at 10:08, the house lights went down and they began with “Prisoner,” their first single of the latest album, which bestowed upon us the Afterburner Tour more than a year later. The next song of the Afterburner album would be “Lyrics Lie,” which seems to be not only my favorite but the entire crowd’s that night. The band chilled out with the soothing “Strawberry’s Wake” and cranked the dials back up for “Lemon Meringue Tie”. Their last three songs ended with “We Own the Night”, “Evaporate”, and “Inspire the Liars”. With that, they left the stage, and the house lights came on for everyone to find their way home on a Wednesday night. And maybe like me wondering how they will make it to work the next morning. With such a strong dose of sensory overload that I mentioned earlier from not having been to a concert in over a year, Dance Gavin Dance didn’t need a long set to leave an unforgettable impression. My ears were ringing far into the next day, and I couldn’t shake the afterimage of seeing one of my favorite artists standing on top of a stage, screaming their hearts out down at their enamored fans again.

Bear & Wolf | Eidola | Polyphia | Dance Gavin Dance

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