So When You Gonna…Tour? Dream Wife are back with a Fire in their belly and a point to prove.
Releasing an album in the middle of a global pandemic isn’t the ideal backdrop to be working with, and the frustrations of not being able to bring these songs to life on stage must have weighed heavy over the last couple of years. However, all that pent up energy was about to be unleashed during the 3rd song in their set as Rakel Mjöll screamed “When You Gonna Kiss Me?” which launched an aural assault on the ears not heard for several years.
Tonight we gorge on gender fluidity, bad bitches to the front, and the perfect colourful pop punk mix – 3 artists for £15 on a cold Monday night in Leeds, Straight Girl first on stage described it as the ‘Gay Superbowl’. It’s a welcome alternative that’s for sure, while others are sat at home watching the TV for the latest human atrocities committed in Ukraine, the enlightened amongst us are getting very sweaty but happy in a wardrobe, which is actually much larger than you are imagining.
Straight Girl tells us from the off that they are neither straight nor a girl, and that sets the tone for the evening, then they proceed to play some electrorave sounds from their synth keys, pedals and laptop that would likely get an enthusiastic toe tap from a corpse. This sound coupled with their hi energy dance moves means we are all getting an early sweatfest in the wardrobe. Can we have the freaks and gays to the front please, those slightly older stale hetero males definitely need to give way tonight! Straight Girl is a commanding force and if their keyboard biting antics don’t get you, their in your face screaming and dance moves will. All 3 Dream Wifes were watching and loving every minute of it, even Lucia Fairfull said “WTF was that?…incredible moves”. The local act which were hand-picked by Dream Wife to perform in Leeds tonight were a huge hit.
Lucia was up next along with her Best Boys and tonight the performance showed that it won’t be long before academy venues are calling, this was a smooth classy pop act destined for much bigger things, potentially the next Florence and the Machine in waiting. Lucia stands before the audience wearing a neat halfcut jacket exposing a taught midriff and shiny trousers, everything appears immaculately balanced and tracks like You’re So Sweet You Should Die and Perfectly Untrue gain more fans with every performance. They forgot to bring their merch, but at least the next stop on this tour is their home town of Glasgow. Something is happening in that Scottish City again – Walt Disco, Ninth Wave and now Lucia & The Best Boys leading the fresh charge of great Glaswegian bands to check out (I’d add Dead Pony on to that list too, but that’s for another day).
I’ve witnessed the build up of a Dream Wife gig several times in the last year, I was lucky enough to catch their Latitude Festival show in 2021 and it was a lesson in how to pull an audience in, give them exactly what they want and leave them wanting more. From the staged opening where bass player Bella Podpadec and guitarist Alice Go kneel by the drumkit poised for an hour of pop punk and colourful energy, singer Rakel Mjöll’s entrance to Hey Heartbreaker “Hey…Hey…Hey” and then the slower mix of coyness and charm with Hasta La Vista which is really just a breather before the madness of When You Gonna – title track of the latest album. The ferocity of Mjöll’s scream makes your teeth rattle and she will frequently jump across the pit to the barrier to emphasise the point with those daring to be at the front.
“I spy with my little eye Bad Bitches” is the call before Somebody, and the whole band ensure that only those bad bitches are at the front of a Dream Wife gig before explaining that gender has nothing to do with being a bad bitch. “Gender is a construct” Mjöll states, and no one here is going to argue with her. Rakel then has the whole front ten rows chanting “I am not my body, I am somebody” it’s an impressive sight to see.
Then we have the classic divide your audience down the middle for a contest between player 1 (Alice Go) and player 2 (Bella Podpadec). Sports is a triumph of crowd participation as both players tease with a fake guitar battle, player 1 in a high vis vest and player 2 favouring a ‘gladiator dressed as tinkerbell’ costume. Everyone is a winner of course and the Dream machine then rolls on to my favourite track Fire, which still burns bright from their debut album.
As well as tracks from the 1st two albums we get a taster of even newer material and Hot gets an early airing, it fits in well with everything else, but the next highlight is an extended F.U.U. This enables Alice to show her guitar skills and Bella her yoga positions and high kicks, I swear at one point she was fully bent double.
All in all, tonight was a celebration of some of the best new music out there in the UK, 3 artists with talent that will hopefully progress and flourish in an alternative live music scene that thankfully is starting to grow again. Dream Wife for Life.
Words and Photos by John Hayhurst (@snapagig)