Every once in a while, and it’s awkward to say the least, you show up to a heavily hyped and sold out show — to see the opener. Such was the case for me on Tuesday night when I arrived at The Sinclair to see Avid Dancer. I had heard about, listened to and really liked this Los Angeles band, and they were partway through a big national tour. They were the supporting band for BØRNS, an artist who currently has a HUGE buzz and a rabid growing audience which I completely respect but who, for me, is the sonic equivalent of eating too much candy corn in one sitting. So with profound apologies to his completely over-the-moon audience last night, I’ll move on to Avid Dancer, a band that quite simply stole my heart.
It actually helps to have the contrast with BØRNS to highlight just what it was that made Avid Dance so special for me. Music is terribly subjective, of course. This is why I never “review” bands, but I’m inspired to share those that touch and inspire me. For myself, when I listen to a piece of music, I’m always looking for a certain amount of gravitas, a sense of somber or at least serious reflection. In my humble opinion, joyous celebration loses some importance without also experiencing the flip-side of the coin. In terms of this deeper meaning, I seek it out in everything from folk music to hardcore, from singer-songwriter ballads to instrumentals. Introspection doesn’t even require lyrics; it can be heard within the music.
Avid Dancer’s music is solemn and sophisticated, but never grim. There’s a hopeful optimism born out of life’s trials and tribulations.
“Throw away all things not worth living
Open your eyes and start believing”
“Find your joy today // Don’t have to look so hard // Don’t have to look so far
Try to be one way // Just be who you are.”
– All Your Words Are Gone
Avid Dancer caresses the ears with joyous, melodic guitar and life-affirming rhythm, and the band overflows with sensuality and soul. You can hear it in their debut album 1st Bath, but it completely envelops you in their live show. Dreamy, slightly psychedelic and with Jacob Summer’s honey-smooth vocals, I would argue that they’re just as much the ideal “date night band” as the overtly romantic and sentimental BØRNS.
Summer’s down-to-earth banter was quite heartwarming as well and dovetailed nicely with the band’s genuine and passionate music. It sounds funny and maybe a little ridiculous to say this, but knowing his background as a Marine, I found his gentle demeanor and the vulnerability in his lyrics somewhat surprising. Hey, ex-marines can be sensitive guys, and why the hell not?
Avid Dancer will be continuing their tour with BØRNS on November 10, beginning in Canada and moving through the Midwest and West Coast. See their tour schedule for details. And go see them! You’ll be glad you did.