Let’s face it. Prog is definitely a guilty pleasure for many of us. Admitting to liking prog can sometimes feel akin to perhaps, say, bringing a MyLittlePony sketch into a dodgy tattoo shop run by bikies. Much like hiding the fact you enjoy fantasy football or Dungeons and Dragons to your Tinder date, prog is also that one skinny friend with a large, unruly afro and thick spectacles who is a wallflower at parties. Prog is there, you love it. It’s dear to your heart, but it sometimes feels like it doesn’t bring the party as much as punk, doesn’t bring the neck-break or the ruckus as much as it’s ugly brother thrash.
Well, you can rest assured that prog can be thoughtful, loud and bring the fun, too! While modern contemporaries Plini and CHON are focused on the nice-guy happy-go-lucky, Brisbane’s He Danced Ivy draw progressive dynamics and meanderings out into a thumping, fun romp that owes as much nod to Nirvana and Bad Religion as it does Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus and Cog. Carelessly careening from ambience, multi-vocal harmonies and effects to heavy breakdowns and fast thrashing sections.
Take the clip for this little ditty The Verbal Kind, for instance. Starting out with trills and leads that wouldn’t be out of place among Protest The Hero, the rhythm section creeps along whilst the music and clip become increasingly erratic. Bombastic choruses and proggy verses are literally woven amongst vines, which end up covering the band members, who pull some classic facial expressions that would make Devin Townsend himself chuckle. I mean, come on – is that not the happiest drummer you have ever seen?! The skillful but light-hearted attitude in the clip is definitely mirrored in their live performances, where dad jokes, big smiles and banter mingle amongst headbanging, solos and frenetic energy.
The band aren’t strangers to the scene either. Having toured with bands that bring a similar energy to prog and alt-music, such as Protest The Hero, Dead Letter Circus and Mammal, He Danced Ivy are a band that are putting a leather jacket on your uncool cousin, putting a drink in his hand, slapping him on the back and encouraging him to hit that dancefloor like a boss. If you can, try make it to a show when they’re in your neck of the woods. Having relocated from Brisbane to Melbourne recently, I know I’m eagerly awaiting these guys to blow in to Victoria and get the room shaking in time signatures you can whip out your calculator to.
Alternatively, until then, if you want to shake your money-maker in between your forlorn post-rock playlists, check their stuff out here. He Danced Ivy – awakening the Disco Stu in all of us prog nerds.