Review by Lily Omen for MPM.
The unusually early start time hasn’t deterred fans, as the Birmingham Utilita Arena is already half full ready for Dance Gavin Dance.
With music described as a mixture of post-hardcore/experimental rock, the five-piece hail from Sacramento, California supporting Papa Roach and Don Broco sees Dance Gavin Dance return to the UK after a headline tour of their own back in January of this year.
Clearly fans of the band were eager to catch them yet again, making their presence known as soon as the band takes to the stage- though the cheers and excitement feel lost among such a grandiose venue.
“Chucky vs The Tortoise” serves as the opening song, and what those in the audience who are unfamiliar with the band will immediately notice is the two lead vocalists.
Tilian Pearson delivers a clean range that carries an air of early 2000s pop-punk nostalgia, which sits in drastic contrast to the heavy vocal fry of Jon Mess.
While these styles may contradict one another the addition of heavier vocals is, at times, the only thing that seems to stop the band from falling into that pop-punk sound.
That being said, there is no escaping the underlaying funk of the music and the energy that the band brings is mirrored quickly by the crowd.
There is something infectious in the way one can’t help but feel the groove and gradually the crowd becomes more alive, those who are here for Don Broco will appreciate the party-feel that Dance Gavin Dance bring.
By song five and six, the crowd is fully enthralled in the band and enthusiasm for the evening has built up to a point where the atmosphere is abuzz with excitement.
At only seven songs, the only flaw is that the setlist of Dance Gavin Dance seems over far too quickly. They finish almost as soon as the crowd is truly getting into the swing of things, but Dance Gavin Dance have successfully pre-warmed the crowd for Papa Roach.
The Utilita is now fully packed out, fans scramble to get to the front for Californian legends Papa Roach. With the amount of noise amongst the crowd, anyone would think Papa Roach were the headliners!
And why shouldn’t they – Papa Roach are long time veterans of nostalgia amongst the early 2000’s fans of nu metal.
Cheers and whistles and general shouts of eagerness fill the arena – Papa Roach definitely haven’t lost themselves over the years as opening track Kill The Noise kicks off their set.
Being one of their most recent releases from their most recent album Ego Trip, this displays without words that Jacoby Shaddix controls this show, his presence alone enough to draw the crowd into rhythmic acclamation.
As they break into Getting Away With Murder as their 2nd song, longtime fans are here to make their presence known.
By this point the arena is full.
“ARE YOU MOTHERF*CKERS READY!?”
I have a sentiment of no… and absolutely yes.
This is everything a Papa Roach show should be… Energetic and somewhat nostalgic, but Roach do not hesitate to tell everyone of who they are now.
We’re now in 2023- it’s been a long time since Last Resort and they still carry all the energy and chaos of which makes the name Papa Roach.
We’re taken back to 2017 when Help echoes through the Arena and the pit opens, a little delayed – but a mark of the energy to come.
“Have we got any old school Papa Roach fans!?” Shaddix addresses the crowd and that question is fully reverberated back to him, met with a near entire cheer from the venue.
“OPEN THAT MOTHERF*CKER UP!!!”
The Utilita doesn’t hesitate… not one but two pits open the floor. As the hardcore old school fans are living everything they hoped for at this show as tracks Blood Brothers and Dead Cell from one of THE most celebrated album’s from Papa Roach unite everyone in the crowd. Literally. Two pits become one and there is constant movement.
Jacoby orders a chanting of Dead Cell and the crowd obliges. The energy is electric, the arena floor from back to front is packed through.
We’re in for a right treat – the winding guitars of Jerry Horton echo through the stage and a much loved and familiar riff rings out as Rob Holliday is brought on stage and joins Papa Roach in a cover of Prodigy’s Firestarter.
“Do you want to get this motherf*ckin jumpin’?
I surely hope Jacoby wasn’t disappointed by the energy at the Utilita tonight, missing his sons 21 st birthday and all. I doubt it as the crowd truly felt this cover, acting as gasoline to this spark and truly bringing the fire.
The energy thumping from Papa Roach and Rob Holliday reflected through this track – red lights shining through the Arena glowing the absolutely insane movement of the crowd.
Old school circle! This came right in time for another injection of nostalgia …To be loved before the energy shifts and without prompt the venue lights up by a sea of phone lights and lighters for heartfelt Scars.
The emotion is raw.
This is fitting to Jacoby’s previous statement in the show about how fans have been helped by their music. If there was any statement that would agree, it’s that sea of unified waving lights.
It occurs at this point that Don Broco have yet to even appear, Papa Roach may have stolen the show.
As emotional and rhythmic No Apologies emerges from the stage, the crowd needs no guidance at this point, fully emersed in this track ending with a sea of clapping hands.
New or old discography, it’s clear that Papa Roach carry the same energy from one song to the next, which bodes the question, have we been sleeping on Papa Roach?
Why did we stop listening?
“Do you want some more Papa Roach?”
The crowd respond with unified applause as if the question alone is redundant – of course we do!
What a way to enter Between Angels And Insects. The era we know and love, as the crowd splits and the energy surges, this is what we’ve waited for!!
As those final baselines riff off, theres an aura in the air that things aren’t done yet. The band leaves the stage and the crowd chants “we want more”… saving the best for Last Resort which see’s the crowd singing along.
Finishing for Born For Greatness, well Papa Roach drown every shred of doubt that they are exactly that.
From start to finish, the energy hasn’t stopped.
There bodes a question how much of the crowd will filter out after Papa Roach, because that was a headliner performance. The answer is apparently no one… the venue seems as full as it was when Papa Roach first walked on.
The energy and enthusiasm hasn’t dwindled as echoing chants to Duality and Limp Bizkit playing on the speakers ring out.
Don Broco have a crowd waiting that are seemingly ready to burst.
The lights dim and the excitement becomes palpable. The stage sits empty and the crowd roars. As silhouettes appear against thumbing notes and flashing lights the show begins…
There’s no doubt who owns this show tonight, not a still person on the floor. There’s endless energy, from every “Yipikayay motherf*cker!” there’s not a silent person here.
The main course of this metal groove gourmet meal is served.
Gumsheild serves as the second track of the set and Frontman Rob Damiani takes us back to the 80s with a curly mullet and red sports jacket, which is not displaced for Don Broco, The band are known for breaking musical boundaries between funk, metal and parody 80s groove.
Rob states The Utilita is the biggest places they’ve played and it won’t be the last. If you’re like me and thought Don Broco headlining an Arena was a bit far fetched or ambitious – well all that has been smashed hard.
Don’t we feel silly.
Where does all this energy come from? The pit only stands still between songs and even then the cheering doesn’t stop.
Only a few years ago Don Broco were opening for Bring Me the Horizon. Now here they are headlining an arena on what isn’t quite a sold out venue, but it’s sure damn close to being!
It’s difficult to say exactly what category Don Broco falls into when it comes to music genre. I had a passing though that they are almost what Linkin Park could have been if they didn’t take themselves as seriously? Simply for how they break through into multiple genres effortlessly, and in such a way that the flow is nothing less than organic- rap, pop, nu metal, funk.
Theres a charm that only British bands bring. Perhaps its that lack of taking oneself too seriously, slapped against heavy riffs and somewhat impactful lyrics. Don Broco are musically ground breaking with a truly unique sound. As live performers they entice, captivate and fully ensnare. If you aren’t familiar with there music, you wont be bored watching them.
Come Out To LA brings that forward in jiving constant movement. Even in these slightly slower songs there’s still that inescapable rhythm that catches you at the hips and has you moving along.
If you’re not headbanging throughout this gig you’re sure as hell dancing.
This is where the diehard fans come through, apprehensive breakdowns before they begin the pit opens and closes without a single command from Rob..
One True Prince is a song that to the outsider seems misplaced, it doesn’t entirely carry the same energy following Come Out To LA – but the fans reaction speaks on how untrue that is, with crowd surfers filling the pit on what could be dubbed this ballad of a song.
This really is a good and needed diversion from the heavier grooves that will no doubt make up the entire setlist.
The following song the Rob dedicates to his nan who is funny enough sat in front of me for the duration of this gig. And the crowd gives her a round of applause which reminds me why I love the metal scene so much, at its of course its all about unity and support.
The bands comedic and parody side comes out when they introduce Jacoby Shaddox as David Beckham for MSRNF1
Rob carries each vocal shift flawlessly, while other bands with that parodic element tend to slack off on the vocal front. He himself and his delivery with technique and high quality performance.
When he commands that EVERYONE on the floor get down and jump- the entire arena floor makes a damn good effort. And when they jump the floor of the stalls shakes- which seems to represent wholly the delivery of Don Broncos performance. Floor shaking.
Then between next track What You Do To Me, they play a 90s kitchy advert and bring out a doll for Rob to act with- somehow it effortlessly falls into ACTION.
All of this is all part and parcel of the Don Broco package. As a band they carry just enough of a gimmick for it to be entertaining, without the cringe of sticking to a theme that could grow stale over time- theres authenticity behind their humour.
Perhaps that’s why everything from the visuals to lyrics fits so well together, it’s all pieces of a greater neon infused, 80’s-esque puzzle.
It’s Pete the keyboard players birthday- and the band spare no moment in indulging the celebration with a happy birthday sing-a-long.
As the set goes on, Rob’s performance starts to struggle, but only just and it’s overshadowed by the energy of his performance. Forgivable and not unexpected considering there’s not a moment he seems to stand still. As a frontman he leads with a never ending rush of energy, any struggles he may experience is brief and not enough to overshadow the talent of his vocal range.
As things truly mellow out for Anaheim, attention isn’t lost, the crowd sways during this moment of what seems to be so everyone can catch their breath. The crowd once again follows, clapping in unison as the song progresses.
This might be where the bands true potential lie as musicians truly shine – there are moments where everyone is still and enticed.
Then comes Everybody and it makes sense why Don Broco had that pleasant, brief, mellow out.
There’s always one song in every bands setlist thay everyone waits for and Everybody is Don Broco’s.
The encore finishes with Fingernails and T-shirt song, sufficiently djenty and heavy songs to really end the night on a high note, letting the last rush of that adrenaline run its course- as if by instinct the crowd knows protocol and a mass of swinging tshirts fill the floor. It seems this is a regular event at a Don Broco show!
Carrying that energy through and through, this feels like a party that could go on all night- if the curfew permitted.
Seeing how far Don Broco have come, it’s obvious that the love is mutual between band and fans. They aren’t slowing down anytime soon.
As Rob tells of how important music is, his statement is thoroughly represented in the love and unity of tonight. With the bitterness of lockdown still somewhat fresh its difficult not to feel emotional at the sentiment
So much of what makes Don Broco such an immersive and entertaining show, is how clear it is that the band truly love and enjoy what they are doing. They are equally performers as they are musicians, that sense of fun and joy they experience while performing is given back to them tenfold by their fans.
If Don Broco isn’t on your list of bands to see live then they should be, and if they are then there’s only one question – Do you feel like dancing?
Photography by Pete Key for MPM