Dream Wife | Lucia & the Best Boys | Chemtrails
25th Mar 2022
Joe Goggins reports from the Manchester leg of Dream Wife’s long-delayed UK tour
You get the sense Dream Wife had some pent-up energy to exorcise tonight.
For obvious reasons, the almost two years since the release of their second record, 2020’s So When You Gonna…, have been long ones. There was no prospect of touring it that year, and a run scheduled for 2021 was ultimately put back until now.
Accordingly, this was always likely to be an explosive punk affair, something underlined by openers Chemtrails; from London, now based in Manchester and signed to the gold standard of European garage rock in Stockholm label PNKSLM, their 30-minute set was a vibrant exercise in clever punk subversion. They were followed by another tremendously scuzzy support turn by Glasgow up-and-comers Lucia & The Best Boys, three weeks after their similarly impressive turns opening for Wolf Alice at the Apollo; they pitch themselves somewhere between Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine.
By the time Dream Wife took the stage, there was very much the sense that there was lost time to make up for. The trio formed at art school in Brighton, and as much as So When You Gonna… felt both polished on the punkier tracks and liable to wander down indie rock avenues on songs like After The Rain, tonight’s show feels much more in tune with the band’s DIY roots. Opener Hey Heartbreaker is plucked from their self-titled debut and sets the tone, a volcanically energetic punk track that sees not just consummate frontwoman Rakel Mjöll prove herself as a symphony in perpetual motion, but guitarist Alice Go and bassist Bella Podpadec, too; they bounce around the stage with an energy that speaks to their two enforced years off of the road.
That time away, though, has done little to blunt Dream Wife’s political agenda. Their feminist outlook shaped their debut album on tracks like Somebody, which avowedly rejects sexual objectification, as well as the furious F.U.U. So When You Gonna… took the band’s social commentary to another level, whether with genuine sensitivity on tracks like Temporary, which tenderly chronicles a miscarriage and leads to an unlikely early singalong in the set, or in much more sardonic fashion with the likes of Sports!, the sound of the group rolling their eyes set to music.
These aren’t the only manifestations of the band’s politics; Mjöll makes a point, early on, of pressing home the fact that the band’s glorification of ‘bad bitches’ extends to trans women, too, whilst their long-standing commitment to parting the crowd to ensure a girls-to-the-front policy remains in place. So When You Gonna… is littered with evidence that Dream Wife are a truly nuanced alt-rock band, but tonight, they served up a frenetic reminder of their punk origins – it was one they’d been waiting two years for, and you could tell.
Dream Wife’s tour of the UK continues:
26 – Leicester, O2 Academy Leicester
28 – Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
29 – Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
30 – London, Electric Ballroom
1 – Brighton, Chalk
2 – Cambridge, Portland Arms
30 – Edinburgh, Stag and Dagger Festival
1 – Newcastle, Newcastle University
28 – London, Wide Awake Festival
4 – Leeds, Live at Leeds in the Park
Words by Joe Goggins: find him on Twitter here.
Photo credit: Indy Brewer