Live Review: Dream Wife

SWG3, 22/10/18

You’ve probably heard the French expression un tour de force before. It means something that is exceptionally well done, something extremely powerful. Dream Wife’s entire existence might be un tour de force at this point, after a rampant gig at Glasgow’s SWG3. For an hour, they illuminated the stage, lighting up the room with their playful, angry riot grrlll magnesium sound.

The band opened with the pop-punk war cry of ‘Hey Heartbreaker’, vocalist Rakel Mjoll bouncing about the stage in frenzy, the guitars and bass throwing a wall of sound out against the front rows. ‘Fire’, another single from the bands eponymously titled debut, was similarly bouncy, while also being eviscerating. Alice Go on guitar and Bella Popadec on bass were both superb all night – Go leering at the side, occasionally casually throwing out another brutal lick, while Popadec ground and shimmered at the other side of the stage, her hands flying over the neck of the bass. Despite her relatively small height (“I’m tiny” she grinned at the audience inbetween ‘Kids’ and ‘Somebody’) Mjoll can dominate a stage with her presence. Her vocals veer between a polished Americanised cooing and a very British punk howl, the perfect mix of playfulness and fire, as is her presence itself. Sometimes she will slither towards the audience, smiling, as she did during ‘Act My Age’ before transitioning into outright defiance and anger – “Do I amuse you?” she sneers, in almost an echo of the Manic Street Preachers’ crowd-baiting in their early days.

In between all this, Dream Wife still find time for politics, the feminist anthem ‘Somebody’ with its chorus line of ‘I am not my body, I am somebody” delivered with emphasised righteousness and anger, Mjoll raising her left fist in a protest salute during the chorus. On ‘FUU’ we almost go into metal, the band going into an overdrive of power, the hardcore fans pogoing away at the front. Mjoll goes into the front with them, and it’s chaos, utterly wonderful chaos. The band finish up with ‘Let’s Make Out’, and it’s delivered with all the appropriate energy that a song titled ‘Let’s Make Out’ should harness – an excitement, a trepidation, an angst, an almost feverish climax in the chorus culminating in the taunting come-and-get-it of ‘are you too shy?’. Shy? The room was bouncing, bouncing to an aggressive tongue-in-cheek music that sounds as much like a teenage dream as it does a full-scale nihilistic riot. But then again, are the two really mutually exclusive? The tour de force that is Dream Wife suggests that they are not.

[Gabriel Rutherford – @niemalsallein_]

[Image credit: Eleanor Fletcher]

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