In my preview last week for Dream Wife‘s Sunday show at The Louisiana, I expressed that it was difficult to define quite what should be expected of the band in their live performance, before immediately undermining myself in attempting to do so. Having pitched them as full of energy and potential, I hastily discovered that I had failed to fully grasp the superlatives necessary to describe the multi-national three-piece, underestimating the superb showmanship, vitality and cultural significance they possess – all of which they exhibited this past weekend.
Opening were Bristol-based noise makers No Violet, who warmed the crowd up with their furious onslaught of metal-infused grunge. The first track culminated in a broken A string, epitomising the relentless ferocity embedded in their whole set. Lead singer Ellie peppered the audience with frantic yet phenomenally controlled shrieks and howls, most furiously exhibited on newly released single ‘America.’ The highlight of the set was actually an unknown slower number with alluring chords that created a quaintly mysterious atmosphere to combat the otherwise ear-buzzing fuzz.
Returning to the venue that had hosted their first Bristol gig two years ago, Dream Wife’s excitement was visible and perfectly mirrored that of the sold out crowd. Lead vocalist Rakel Mjöll bounced around stage relentlessly through opening song ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ as sweat began to drip from every pore and wall. The persistent fury and vigour with which they presented themselves soon had a noticeable effect on bassist Bella Podpadec who coughed and spluttered through a glass of water, undeterred by her illness and seemingly willing to play until she was physically unable to do so. The band proceeded with the irresistibly vibrant ‘Fire’ before Mjöll offered the invitation to ‘Spend the Night With Me’ with sugary yet impactful, echo-like vocals. Those present were already thankful that they had accepted this offer.
Mjöll dedicated the next two songs, ‘Love Without Reason’ and ‘Kids’ to Podpadec and guitarist Alice Go’s parents and siblings, many of whom were in the audience and described as “not liking the attention.” The latter of these was an infectiously feel good effort, adorned in sparkling bass-lines and glittering riffs, sending calls of “woohoo” rippling through the crowd. The band then turned their attention towards the significant issue of sexual assault against women at music events, highlighting their cause with endorsement of SafeGigs4Women. Mjöll invited all of her “Bad Bitches” to the front, before launching into standout hit ‘Somebody’. Few lyrics are as simply yet effectively empowering as “I am not my body, I am somebody,” their impression heightened by the singer’s passion-fuelled, blazing delivery.
This frenzy raged until the culmination of the set and was particularly perceptible in penultimate song ‘F.U.U,’ standing for “Fuck You Up,” a lyric repeated against the backdrop of jagged guitar jolts. The band juxtaposed this track by celebrating the winner of an online t-shirt competition, creating a peculiarly delightful contrast. With the audience equally charmed, inspired and astonished by Dream Wife’s work, a good portion were compelled to join the band onstage as they hurtled through their final offering, a fitting image of joyful carnage to end the show.
If you missed it, get a taste for Dream Wife live with their KEXP performance below: