I am proud to have attended this perfect gig of progressive jazz rock fusion, performed by a foursome based out of my home city of Mississauga, Ontario… AND a Splendid Industries band, no less: Dog Drive Mantis! Needless to say, I was truly excited to experience their blazing music live in action.
They ventured into Guelph, as did I for this special occasion, to play at Brothers Brewing Company in Guelph, as part of the Music Weekends in Downtown Guelph music series, presented by GAIN Music and Eleven Presents. Unfortunately, a water main broke right at the intersection near the brewery, meaning service was cut for health reasons, and thus the overall 2-hour performance was shortened. That did not stop Dog Drive Mantis from belting it out and kicking the joint up with their radical music, one piece after another.
Dog Drive Mantis consists of charismatic guitarist Mike Papaloni, meticulous drummer Neilroy Miranda, steady bassist Carmen Haines, and cool-composed multi-instrumental wind player Derek Serbin. These four lads combine to make a mean troupe that emit tight impactful instrumental grooves and energetic enjoyable melodic waves. You could tell that they tirelessly practiced for hours to perfect their musicianship individually and collectively, steam-rolling with confidence and bravado, showing no signs of error. Personal praise goes to Derek, who has my eternal love and respect as a fellow clarinetist. His calming command of his playing skills is inspirational, and not only on the clarinet but the alto saxophone and EWI (electronic wind instrument) as well. He expands Dog Drive Mantis’ timbral diversity, truly earning them an idiosyncratic style.
They played through many of their own compositions from off their 2018 debut album, How Did We Get Here?, released exactly a year ago on that day. What a special intimate celebration this was, with such pieces like the rumbling chic “Floorist”, the ramped charger “We Were Watching” and the sentimental yet bizarre goodness that is “Stunya”. The top attraction of the performance was Dog Drive Mantis’ nostalgic escapade to the late 90s with their excellent arrangement of the Nintendo 64 classic video game, Mario Kart 64. They played through the title and menu screens, the pre- and post-race jingles, and the race course soundtrack of “Royal Raceway”.” They presented a musical journey of childhood joy that I was glad to internalize through the band’s pure execution and radiant thrill.
Dog Drive Mantis is a daring creative group of ingenuity who deserve admiration for their masterful inclusive mosaic of prog, jazz, funk and post-rock. Have at them when you have the chance to see them live!
Photos by Nicholas Cooper | Scope Overseer Photogenics