Dance Gavin Dance vs. The System of Grammar

Music is a universal language. The simplicity of listening to a group of instruments and vocals can result in a complex mood change, or even help create a memory of someone/something significant. A strategic rhythm set to a beat can get stuck in your head in an instant. The magic of a symphony in an auditorium can give you goosebumps—especially if you’re listening to John Williams or Stephen Sondheim. Luckily, today there are several other ways to listen to music other than live. Whether you’re looking for country, rock, pop, indie, folk, opera, metal, or post-hardcore, music will always be powerful. However, in this case, we’re only going to narrow the vast subject that is music down to one genre and one band.

The subject: Dance Gavin Dance. The adjective: post-hardcore. The collective noun: band. Established in 2006, in Sacramento, California, Dance Gavin Dance consists of five members: Tilian Pearson (clean vocals), Jon Mess (messy vocals), Matthew Mingus (drums/percussion), Tim Feerick (bassist), and Will Swan (lead guitar). This band contains a lot of attributes towards grammar, not only with their lyrics but with the group members themselves.

To further explain what “messy” vocals are–they’re vocals that are “screamed” into the microphone. They create an intense effect on the lyrics and exaggerate (or italicize), their meaning. By switching between messy vocals and clean vocals, the band creates different rhetoric altogether.

Usually, the messy lyrics would consist of primarily utter nonsense, but when Jon Mess screams them, they somehow seem to fit. For instance, in their song “Chucky vs. the Giant Tortoise,” the line (or should I say a sentence): “Riding a rhino pico de gallo. Roosters beak, I’ll go to sleep when I leap that jeep,” is screamed by Mess (CITE). Even with the rest of the context, it’s unusual:

“[Jon Mess] I’ll go in cryo and return to life h-. And make a Bisque, some tomato basil s—, Riding a rhino pico de gallo. Roosters beak, I’ll sleep when I leap that jeep. (Mess)

[Tilian Pearson] Don’t close your eyes tonight. Perfect melodies are hard to find. I got a feeling we could touch the sky.” (1)

When you listen to the lyrics, they come off a little easier. Also, since the “screamed” lyrics aren’t entirely necessary for some of their songs, Jon Mess’ portion would/should be surrounded by parentheses.

Tilian also partakes in partial “messy” singing. He often switches back and forth between the two when it’s necessary, but he isn’t the “messy” vocalist because he doesn’t scream. His way of choosing either way of singing would be the perfect example of a slash in grammar.

The simple act of singing and playing their guitars/drums would be their verbs. They play their guitars, drums, and bass. They sing/scream their lyrics. The names signed on their instrument cases are an example of apostrophes because they’re possessive. Also, in brackets next to their part on their lyric sheets, there should be the bands’ names.

While each member plays an essential and vital role in the band, Tilian and Jon are the direct objects because they’re always front-and-center. The rest of the group are indirect due to them playing in the background and supporting the singers. However, musically, each instrument couldn’t stand alone, or else this wouldn’t be a post-hardcore band (since they can’t stand alone musically, this would be an example of a conjunctive adverb).

Dance Gavin Dance has changed a lot since 2006. They’ve gone through several members over the years. The band cycled through Jonny Craig and Kurt Travis before Tilian came along in 2013. Before it was just Will Swan, he played alongside Sean O’Sullivan back when the band began; before there was Tim Feerick on bass, there was Eric Lodge. These weren’t the only switches over the bands lifetime, but we’re only going to focus on the 2018 edition of the band. Coincidentally, there hasn’t been a change in their role-call since 2013.

Before their sets, the owner of the venue announces the band, which would be an example of metadiscourse. The owner informs the audience who’s up next, and Tilian tells the audience what song they’re going to play. These announcements would result in the venue owner or Tilian being considered as the appositives due to them explaining who’s next or what song is up. Along with these announcements, a colon would be placed on the general admission ticket or flyer announcing the set: “The Black Sheep Presents: Dance Gavin Dance and Chon, featuring Eidola and Vasudeva.”

Most of the bands’ cohesiveness (or when all the words in a sentence link together to give the sentence more meaning), is when the members are all playing together. For their music to make sense and stay in rhythm, they must agree with one another. Each member of the band must make sure that their hands and mouths are playing/singing in coordination with each other. In general, all bands must follow this rule, or they wouldn’t thrive and continue to gain fans. Coincidentally, the coordination between the band members results in a hyphen. They’re used for word division, yet they also combine words. In this case, they’re combining the members. Without cohesion or coordination, Dance Gavin Dance’s music wouldn’t be able to create the symbolism they have, which would result in a lack of underlying meaning in their music.

For instance, in their song “Here Comes the Winner,” there’s plenty of symbolism behind it if you read between the lines. The song was released in 2016 when the presidential election was going on in full force. One of the verses (or clauses) in the songs suggests that all the public figures were lined up on a stage to win the hearts of America. They incorporated a few political statements within the messy vocals, and altogether they made everything agree.

Another line that could be used to show symbolism is a verse from their song “Inspire the Liars”:

“So, let’s start a religion, they’ll believe in what we say. Let’s start a religion; we can blind their eyes with faith. A new religion, we’ll tell them where our spirits go. Start a religion; I need my ego to explode.” (CITE)

This verse is towards the end of the song, and it symbolizes the “cult-like” mentality of some of the religious groups in society. It suggests that some of the religions result in “blind” followers and that people will follow anything that interests them.

Throughout their songs, there is a known-new contract. As you listen, you begin to learn the choruses (the known) and are gradually introduced to the verses (the new). In this “contract” they also created ties into their listeners’ expectations, (or readers expectations). Their fans expect their set to flow together and their music to keep with their usual style, (or the way they establish their overall mood or meaning). To keep the contract and the expectations of their listeners up-to-par, the band also needs to keep their (sentence) rhythm.

Rhythm is among the top qualities every type of band needs to know. If one instrument/singer is off-beat, then the whole group is off. The bands’ rhythm would be where the punctuation would set in. Their music breaks between lyrics could be considered as semi-colons because they create a new mood. The breaks between their songs would be considered commas due to the literal breaks between independent clauses (or songs). The line, “Are you ready?” would end in a question mark, and their lyrics all contain quotation marks around them because they’re direct quotes coming out of their mouths.

The choruses could pass as a predicate. They’re the primary voice in the song, and they contain verbs that state something that they’re doing or are going to do. For instance, in “Inspire the Liars,” the chorus represents an antithesis (by showing opposition in one sentence), and a predicate: “Say you want to know the truth, well you can ask me a question. I’ll tell you something that you may wanna hear, but I’ll lie” (3). The chorus states that if you want to know the truth about something, then you should ask them even though they told you they’d lie. So, why ask them in the first place?

The choruses could also represent parallelism because they’re repetitive and show importance throughout the song. Their parallel structure is consistent throughout all their music when it comes to how often their choruses are played.

If Dance Gavin Dance were to break down, it would result in over-excessive songs with minimal lyrics or meaning—which could also serve as a run-on sentence, (or in some cases a comma splice).  Luckily, to decompose the system a little, music breaks (or their form of semi-colons), can help divide up the extended run-ons or potential comma splices.

Musically, the band creates a solid post-hardcore sound altogether. While they’re not the only band in this genre, they are certainly unique in their own way. Since 2009, they’ve had a significant impact on my life. A big part of the reason why I got into Dance Gavin Dance was that of their unique song names and unique verses. It’s part of their style and their voice. Actively, they sing these lyrics with pride and create their overall rhetoric by doing so. Dance Gavin Dance proves that music is universal with their take on the genre they’ve been placed in. With their careless demeanor and their relatable lyrics, this band really puts the phrase, “fake it ‘til you make it” to good use with some of their songs.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Mess, Jon. I’ll go in cryo and return to life h-. And make a Bisque, some tomato basil s—, Riding a rhino pico de gallo. Roosters beak, I’ll sleep when I leap that jeep. “Chucky vs. the Giant Tortoise.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.

(1) Pearson, Tilian. Don’t close your eyes tonight. Perfect melodies are hard to find. I got a feeling we could touch the sky. “Chucky vs. the Giant Tortoise.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.

(2) Pearson, Tilian. So, let’s start a religion, they’ll believe in what we say. Let’s start a religion; we can blind their eyes with faith. A new religion, we’ll tell them where our spirits go. Start a religion; I need my ego to explode. “Inspire the Liars.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.

(3) Pearson, Tilian. Say you want to know the truth, well you can ask me a question. I’ll tell you something that you may wanna hear, but I’ll lie. “Inspire the Liars.” Mothership. Vinyl. Interlace Audio Recording Studios. 2016.

 

15-20 Seconds of Creative Non-Fiction

As I laid my head down on the already fluffed pillow, I heard a small sound. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was or where it was coming from. It sounded almost in agony, yet it was so soft, so quiet; I didn’t realize it was coming from my own bedroom. Quickly, I threw my maroon comforter off of my recently cocooned body and I got up. My first instinct was to turn on the flashlight on my phone and check under the bed.

Around the light, it was pitch black,  and the chilling feeling of someone watching me crept over me. The darkness under my bed always creeped me out; I’ve seen too many horror movies. After too much overthinking, the hairs on my neck stood up; the noise was back. Except, this time, it was closer. I quickly scanned the room with my flashlight in hand and I saw it.

Or rather…  I saw her.

Underneath the dark wall of clothes that lined my closet, I shined my flashlight in her direction and her shiny blue-eyes looked up at me with exhaustion washed over her face. I walked over to her and saw that the blanket on the floor was spattered with blood. I quickly inspected the area around her and at a closer glance, I saw quite a few jellybean toes, along with ten unopened eyes, and five pink and black noses. My beautiful blue-eyed baby girl just gave birth to five squeaky little kittens.

Disclaimer: This is a creative non-fiction story about a 15-20 second moment in my life. I decided to write about this particular moment because it was the day my grandkitties were born (April 24, 2015). I kept two of the five and they’re pictured above.

Theodore Toe-fur Meowsevelt is the kitty on top. He almost died at six-months by eating a shoestring (you can read about it here: A Matter Of Four Days ). I’m so happy he made it through and he’s still my baby munchkin.

Patrick Meowsevelt, on the other hand, is still a chubby little man. He’s definitely grandpa’s cat, but he’s very particular and judgmental when it comes to who is in his house. They’re both such characters, and they’re little punks, but I love them unconditionally.

To read more on my boys and their mama, see the following:

Baby Blue Eyes

They Pounced

Theodore “Toefur” Meowsevelt: A Memoir From a Cat’s Perspective

The Cycle of Self-Hatred: An Anthology

The Cycle of Self-Hatred: An Anthology

Ever since we were kids, we were told that we could do anything. If we wanted to; “we could be astronauts, we could be superheroes, we could be Disney princesses/princes, we could be the President of the United States” (T.F. Anon.), but how many of us have attained these goals? NASA is not flying people out anymore until approximately 2021. The superheroes in the comics and the movies do not exist (unless you’re filthy rich and can afford Batman or Iron Man’s lifestyle). Disney princesses/princes must follow intricate roles for low wages (in FL and CA they are not sustainable), and now we are on our 45th president.

Personally, I wasn’t brought up with these unrealistic goals because my mom wasn’t the kind of person to tell their kids they could reach for the moon. (I say mom because she’s been there through it all, my dad was absent during most of my big decisions). Instead, my siblings and I focused on the here and now. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up until the Spring of 2017. Up until then I set my own goals and crushed them. When I first started college I went through about six different majors before I stuck with English. Throughout the whole debacle, my mom was still there for me. She didn’t care what school I went to or what career path I wanted to follow, she just wanted me to be happy with my own decisions. While my brother and I have remained indecisive (for most of my life) and my youngest sister is still six, my eighteen-year-old sister has known what she’s wanted to be since kindergarten. So, the way we were brought up has differing affects on all of us.

These unrealistic goals have been inflicted onto us since before our parents were parents, before their parents were parents, and so on. Setting these goals are a prime example of what society wants us to be. There isn’t anything wrong with telling your kids that they can be astronauts, princesses/princes or the president, but sometimes they grow up to think about this more literally than it’s originally meant. Thanks to a few anonymous participants, I have concocted an elaborate example on how three things can start the cycle of self-hatred and how they can be resolved.

COMPARISONS

Let’s begin with what exactly self-hatred is. It starts out as an internal argument with yourself. You don’t like the way you look, the way you compare yourself to others, the way others seem to compare you to how society thinks you should look and act. The simple act of following a blog or fashion magazine can lead to the downfall of positivity. As soon as you start comparing yourself to others, you can start to lose your self-love.

Keeping a firm grasp on your self-love is very important. I had it once. My grip was tight, and nobody could touch me. Over time, things started to change. Social media became more readily available. My bare face with bags under my eyes, acne, and large pores weren’t enough. The times changed. Makeup was the new norm, and when I started to figure it out, women started to get praised for baring their naked faces. So, which is it?

Society will always evolve, but I’m not the only one who has fallen into this cycle. There are several others. According to a few men and women I interviewed; Darnell, Emmanuel, Marisol, and Braxton (these are pseudonyms to keep them anonymous). I am not alone. All four of them have informed me that their cycles of self-hate begin with comparisons.

Darnell and Marisol were brought up to think that there is a certain age for certain life achievements. If you’re not married by the time you’re in your mid-20s, you’ve failed. If you don’t move out at eighteen, you’ve failed. If you don’t get your own home with an established income by the time you’re 30, you’ve failed. All of this became preprogrammed into their brains as they grew up. Filled with “you must” and “you have to’s”, Darnell and Marisol were sent into the real world with high expectations. Soon they were met with the sudden reality that the goals that were set cannot be planned, and if they were planned, they were not easily attainable. (Marisol eventually discovered a potential solution, but we’re going to get through everyone’s personal growths later.)

Emmanuel was brought up the same way. Except he grew up with the lack of a great parental influence. His mom was absent his entire life. Sure, Dad was physically there, but he wasn’t there mentally. Soon after graduation, his dad decided “wait a minute, I have a son. What is he doing with his life?”. This left Emmanuel with two choices that his dad gave him. Either he had to join the army and get out of his dad’s house, or he had to quit his current job that put miles on his car. Regardless, it was an ultimatum that his previously-absent father set before him. Despite having a long term intermittent (yet serious) girlfriend, Emmanuel chose the military.

Braxton often finds himself thinking back to the “good ole’ days”. He kept focusing more on the “what-if’s” instead of the “here and now”. Nostalgia was taking over his thought process and he constantly compared his current life to how it could’ve been if he just changed one step in his past.

STRESS

Another factor leading into the cycle is stress. Personally, I go through days of questioning everything and wanting to pull my hair out. School and quite a few personal issues have taken a toll on my mental health these past few semesters. There would be times when I’d quit showering or eating, and there’s times when my fiancé would force me out of the house for mental breaks. I’m not alone in the amount of stress I experience either. Sarafine, Spencer, and Mark (pseudonyms of course) have similar stories.

Sarafine has recently started college and the number of classes and the amount of debt shoved upon her has increased her stress level. She goes through periods of self-doubt and moments where she’s just wanted to drop out.

Spencer grew up learning incorrect ways to cope with her stress. Instead of handling it, she would shut everyone out and isolate herself. After isolating herself too much, she’s ended up spiraling into a pit of depression and anxiety starts to set in.

Mark used to be a happy, easy-going guy until he “let the stress of job hunts cause him to get weak-minded” (Mark). He let his guard down and decided to listen to the bullies around him and eventually ended up breaking down. The meaningless words from his close friends and family caused him to feel more down than he already was, and he still hasn’t found a way out of the cycle of self-hatred and lost hope.

UPHILL BATTLES

The final factor leading into a cycle of self-hatred would the continuous uphill battles we face every day. Some of us face more than others and they can range from continuously fighting off your mental disorders, to changing the way you’ve thought about something your entire life, to trying to ignore bullying. Jamie, Alice, and Bridget have all given me their personal experiences with these uphill battles.

Jamie’s self-hatred started as early as kindergarten when she realized she liked girls. In kindergarten, she told her mom that she really liked one of her friends, who was also a girl, and her mom told her it was wrong. This lead Jamie to believe that liking girls was wrong all throughout her life because her mom engrained this thought into her head at such a young age. The conflicting emotions inside Jamie’s head eventually grew worse. She started to suppress her feelings and started lying to herself whenever she thought that her feelings for a girl increased to more than a friend. As she got older, this suppression eventually turned into depression. She felt isolated and it drove her crazy until she realized she wasn’t alone.

Alice discovered that she was looking for love in all the wrong places. She was raised with an abusive mother, who wasn’t biologically related to her. It wasn’t until she was five-years-old that she discovered that she was adopted and in her teens, her mom prevented Alice from expressing herself. Since then she realized that she didn’t belong with her adopted parents and the closest thing she had to a family was her uncle and grandma. However, their relationships only stood until her grandma passed away and her uncle did something her dad didn’t like so her dad secluded him. Luckily, her and her dad still had a closer relationship than she did with her mom, so she had someone to talk to while he wasn’t away (he was in the military). After a ton of realization hit Alice, she started to experience the true symptoms caused by her parents that put her up for adoption. As she got older she started to put more pieces together on why she is the way she is mentally and has surrounded herself with likeminded peers.

Bridget told me that some factors that contribute to her self-hatred is internalized racism, abuse, and isolation. She was treated differently while she was growing up and people talked down to her because she was half-black, which left her feeling inferior. Even though she’s aware that it isn’t rational, she feels that she would be treated better if she were fully white. Bridget studied psychology and sociology in college and she learned that sexual abuse is one of the main causes of eating disorders, and that being in isolation increases self-hatred and suicidal depression (Bridget).

RESULTS

Now what happened to the man who helped me realize how many unrealistic goals are embedded into our brains at a young age? He’s focusing more on his career and what he wants to do with his life (T.F.).

Marisol eventually discovered her passions, she discovered her love for animals and pursued a career in the same field. She’s surrounded by dogs every day and it helps, but the urge to compare is still there. Emmanuel faced a difficult decision and chose the more logical route to please his father. Braxton also found his passions, but unlike Marisol, his passion was more in the vehicle area. Braxton decided that working on cars was more important than living in the past, so he put his all into his work.

Sarafine cut all the toxic and negative people from her life so she could start focusing more on the positive. School is still just as overwhelming, but she’s made sure to fill in her free time with fun activities. When she isn’t working on a paper, she’s hiking with her dog or going on adventures with her boyfriend.

Spencer decided to focus more on her personal health and changing her nutrition helped her improve her overall lifestyle. Her mind became clearer, she’s able to concentrate, sleep soundly, and her stomach issues caused by stress went away.

Jamie watched YouTube videos with several people who went through situations like her own. She read personal stories about the LGBT community on various sites and felt more comfortable with herself. While she still couldn’t understand why her mom put those negative thoughts in her head, she still makes sure to remind herself that she isn’t alone.

Alice has undergone a lot of counseling to help realize all the things that she was repressing. Going to counseling has helped her ease her mind and take into consideration that what she’s experienced throughout her life, wasn’t her fault. Now she’s more vocal about her opinions than before and voices all her concerns to where everybody hears them. Also, she’s surrounded herself with friends who have gone through similar experiences and they’ve helped her realize she isn’t alone.

Like Spencer, Bridget began to focus more on her nutrition as well. She started to get really into skincare products and started to express herself more. Also, she now does this little trick where she replaces the negative thoughts in her head with positive ones. Thinking this way has helped her increase her self-love overall but it’s still an uphill battle.

While Darnell and Mark haven’t found their paths yet, they all remain positive on their journeys. Self-hatred might not have a cure and it’s incredibly hard to fight your personal battle towards self-love, but if there’s a will there’s a way. Eventually, you will achieve complete happiness. It might feel like an uphill battle right now, but if you’re determined enough you can keep fighting and succeed. Erase social media if you must. Take more selfies every day. Dive into your passions. Do anything that will distract your mind from constantly comparing, stressing, or creating more issues for yourself. Everyone feels down at some point, even those that seem happy-go-lucky 24/7, but don’t give up just yet.

You

The other day..

I cried.

Not for the sake of a mental breakdown,

but because of my love for you.


The curves of your face,

the smell of “you”,

the way your lips look,

when you smile.


From your head,

to your toes.

You’re mine,

just like you’ll always be.


For better,

for worse,

til death do us part.


The vows haven’t been exchanged,

just yet.

But the piece of paper required,

isn’t that far,

from being signed.

I just hope you realize,
that I’ll always be there.


AllBee there for you,

during the rough times,

and during the bad.


AllBee there for you,

during the happy times,

and during the sad.


Just know that even though,

we aren’t where we wanna be,

just yet.

I’ll always be with you.

No matter what.


Simply because I love you,

oh so much.