Given it was a sold-out show bang in the middle of their international tour, you might have forgiven riot grrrl-esque group Dream Wife for being a bit tired when they performed at Rescue Rooms on Wednesday night. In fact, what we got was the total opposite- mad amounts of energy, loads of audience interaction and an unexpectedly intimate atmosphere made it up there with the most fun I’ve ever had at a gig.
Kicking things off with a bang were Nottingham’s own Anatomy, who were picked by Dream Wife as support as part of their effort to showcase up-and-coming local bands in each city they visit. Energetic and enthusiastic, Anatomy proved to the crowd it was well worth arriving early to catch them. Up next was Queen Zee, who are with Dream Wife for the whole length of their UK tour and who already seem to have acquired a bit of a cult following; as we discovered in the pre-show talk, loads of submissions Dream Wife received for the support slots cite Queen Zee as an influence. It’s easy to see why. They really brought the energy with their messy blend of punk, glam, and tongue-in-cheek humour, giving us their own take on Dizzee Rascal’s “Bonkers” as well as originals such as “Porno”– introduced as being “very close to my heart… it’s about my disappointing sex life.”.
After a break between sets to ramp up anticipation even more, Dream Wife eventually took their places onstage in front of the pink neon light bearing their logo- vocalist Rakel, bassist Bella and guitarist Alice. Jumping straight into it, they opened with the older fan favourite “Hey Heartbreaker” from 2016’s EP, which got the crowd moving before slowing it down again with the gentler “Love Without Reason”. This change of pace continued as the band chatted to the audience in between songs, telling us about when they last played Notts in Rough Trade 2 years ago, and giving a real sense of intimacy to the gig. Possibly Dream Wife’s signature move at shows is their encouragement of girls in the crowd to get involved and sure enough, Rakel made their nightly request that “everyone who identifies as a ‘bad bitch’ please make your way to the front” before they launched into the opening bars of the brilliantly raw “Somebody”. As she half sang, half shouted the repeated chant: “I am not my body- I am somebody.”, the crowd echoed it right back at her as one, giving a real sense of inclusivity and community within the audience- exactly the kind of atmosphere Dream Wife aim to create by promoting the idea of gigs as ‘safe spaces’.
After that, the crowd got going a bit more as Rakel pointed out Alice’s grandma (aka Mamar) in the audience, who later joined the Wives onstage during the rowdy “FUU”, taking over on the mic to shout “bad bitches to the front” as Rakel herself climbed down into the crowd to join the mosh pit. Before, you could tell the crowd were impatient to get moving a bit more and Dream Wife seemed to play on this during the elongated instrumental start of “FUU”; Alice and Bella showed off on guitar and bass respectively while Rakel had a well-deserved sit down, building the anticipation until she jumped over the barrier and the crowd exploded with energy. Finishing on a high with “Let’s Make Out”, Dream Wife left the crowd infected with their badass-but-fun attitude; while it’s common to end a night pumped full of adrenaline with that ‘post-gig high’, it’s more rare for that feeling to last well into the days afterwards. Dream Wife seem to be as much about cultivating that mindset of self-confidence and inclusivity as it is the music, and although they’ve only got one record under their belts, I doubt they’ll be shutting up any time soon.
Photo credit: Jenn Five