‘So When You Gonna…’ see Dream Wife live?

Posted On 23 May 2022 at 6:14 pm

Dream Wife live at Chalk, Brighton 20.5.22 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge!)

DREAM WIFE + SLANT – CHALK, BRIGHTON 20.5.22

“Are you looking out for each other?” vocalist Rakel Mjöll calls to the crowd assembled in CHALK. She offers the mic to the mosh pit, and a front row of self-identified bad bitches give her less of a cheer, more of a full-throated screech of endorsement. “Do you feel safe?” It’s barely a question worth asking at a Dream Wife gig; after all, this is a band who’ve quite literally made their name mocking gender expectations and fighting for women’s equality in the indie rock scene. They’re not the kind of band an unsafe misogynist is likely to spend their Friday night listening to, but they ask anyway, just to set the precedent.

SLANT live at Chalk, Brighton 20.5.22 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge!)

Rewinding a few hours earlier, CHALK was slowly but surely filling up, with early revellers ready to embrace their inner John Hughes protagonist for Brighton’s own Slant. From the glimmering androgyny of their New Romantic fashion to their quirky blend of genre influences, the retro-tinged rockers set out to break the mould of post-punk. Tracks like ‘La Danse’ were squarely aimed at getting the audience moving, blending a formidable stomping beat with a rich backdrop of guitars and synthesisers. One of their strongest selling points was their stagecraft, particularly from our two duelling vocalists who took on the grandiosity of their glam rock inspirations with properly magnetic confidence.

SLANT live at Chalk, Brighton 20.5.22 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge!)

Even when veering in more of a power-pop direction, audiences could reliably spot the ethos of the DIY zines that inspired Slant’s name behind the keyboards. Recent singles like ‘Haircut’ and ‘You’re A Girl’ expressed the power that can be found in breaking gender stereotypes through self-expression. The latter’s sound was as playful as its approach to gender, boasting an easily chantable hook and Wet-Leg-esque tongue-in-cheek lyrical style. It’s no surprise, given their expertise in what I can only describe as feminist bops, that their cover of female-fronted rock standard ‘Cherry Bomb’ was a fan favourite, energised with classic rock swagger from start to finish.

SLANT live at Chalk, Brighton 20.5.22 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge!)

Slant setlist:
‘Poly’
‘Eat The Moon’
‘It’s The Same’
‘La Danse’
‘Cherry Bomb’
‘You’re A Girl’
‘Haircut’
‘Punch Ups’

SLANT live at Chalk, Brighton 20.5.22 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge!)

Find out more HERE.

Dream Wife live at Chalk, Brighton 20.5.22 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge!)

Slant did a stellar job of warming up the audience, but really, even the most nonchalant crowds would have a hard time moping in disinterest to what came next. Dream Wife’s dramatic intro styled like the pre-credits of an old Hollywood movie brought out floor-filling cheers from an audience who’d been waiting over a year for this moment. Not wasting time, the band high-kicked into action with opening track ‘Hey Heartbreaker’. It’s the first of a few punchy punk-rock songs in which Dream Wife actively claim their right to romance instead of letting lovers come to them, including ‘Let’s Make Out’ and ‘So When You Gonna…’, but its clap-along chorus made it a killer opening. The first three tracks were a whirlwind of fan favourites that showed off every member of the band’s relentless energy, with bassist Bella in particular feeding off crowd anticipation to fuel their rockstar riffs from atop the monitors.

Dream Wife live at Chalk, Brighton 20.5.22 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge!)

After this, we were treated to the first new single, and honestly, I could have left after this and been satisfied. This is a direct message to Dream Wife: I am going to need you to release ‘Hot’ immediately and right now please. It’s a punk banger that fizzes with the joy of giddy new crushes on “hot girls in bands, hot boys in bands, hot theys in bands”, because really, the experience of making bad choices over a guitarist knows no gender. It’s genuinely one of Dream Wife’s most exciting tracks in years, sparking with potential and performed with unwavering passion as Rakel and guitarist Alice chant the chorus. There’s a little whiplash, in fact, following this up with my personal favourite Dream Wife song of all ‘Temporary’, a beautifully arresting ode to friendship in the face of trauma, and even the band sounded a little out of breath for it. Luckily, even pitch alterations to save a singer’s voice weren’t able to bring down the song’s empathetic power.

Dream Wife live at Chalk, Brighton 20.5.22 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge!)

A few more tracks from their most recent album ‘So When You Gonna…’, which they’ve been unable to celebrate on a live stage since its release in 2020, brought us up to ‘Somebody’, a staple of any Dream Wife show. Alice and Bella shredded away while Rakel, in true Riot Grrrl fashion, invited all the bad bitches to the front. As always, they were careful not to police the crowd’s genders while she did so, but the crowd largely had their back in letting the female and non-binary attendees who’d not had their chance to yell into the mic up to the front. Chants of “I am not my body I am somebody” rang through the venue, some singing confidently, some screaming the lines back at the band with voices on the edge of cracking in pathos. Through it all there was the sense that, for Dream Wife’s committed audience, the opportunity to feel safe doing this was something they’d dearly missed in the fiercely supportive band’s absence from a live stage. They managed to keep their momentum up to form the first mosh pit of the show for ‘F.U.U’, which turned out to be a sight too cathartic for Rakel to resist throwing herself into.

Dream Wife live at Chalk, Brighton 20.5.22 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge!)

Dream Wife setlist:
‘Hey Heartbreaker’
‘Hasta La Vista’
‘So When You Gonna…’
‘Hot’
Temporary’
‘Fire’
‘Song For A Friend’
‘Validation’
‘Somebody’
‘Sports!’
‘Homesick’
‘Leech’
‘F.U.U’
‘Let’s Make Out’

Dream Wife live at Chalk, Brighton 20.5.22 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge!)

Find out more at dreamwife.co

Flyer with original dates and support

Dream Wife setlist (pic Andy Murphy)

Slant setlist (pic Andy Murphy)

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