On the evening after The Guardian released a report showing that sixty-nine percent of bands playing in the UK on this particular Thursday would feature no women, it’s perhaps refreshing to know that bands such as Dream Wife, a trio of women with a touring drummer, are bucking the trend. And the other bands at this gig aren’t doing too bad either – co-headliners Sløtface‘s frontwoman Haley Shea may be backed by three Sleeper-blokes but the band have been outspoken in their feminist stance; support band Peaness are an all-female trio, only making their “no really, it’s safe for work” name all the better.
The latter’s bassist Jess is clearly taking no shit, wearing a tshirt adorned with the message ‘Writing Songs is For Girls’ – for these girls in particular, you might say. Full of poppy hooks that call to mind the best of new wave, power-pop and Britpop, Peaness’ early support slot draws people away from the bar, eager to observe. There’s a grit to things here too; a lo-fi edge verging on grungy, but drawn back by some Girl Ray-style vocal harmonies. The band are breezy on-stage, ripping through a set, and their only concern seems to be making the train back to Chester. And then they’re gone, walking off-stage with guitars on their backs. It’s an ideal set for a band with all the tunes and, hopefully, a railcard or three.
After Sløtface deliver a set that’s hard-edged and spikey, Dream Wife are greeted by a dedicated group of hardcore fans. Opening with ‘Hey Heartbreaker’, the group instantly establish their abrasive punk-funk sound. Rakel is a Mark E Smith style hip priest with lyrics that are repetitive but intoned differently so that each has a fresh impact on delivery.
‘Lolita’ is the same, taking influence from the Nabokov novel but also self-referentially discussing Dream Wife’s place as women in a male-dominated world, all in just ten or so different lines. Beyond the lyrics, the band are perfectly in sync with each other, creating a hypnotic vision as Rakel’s ponytail flicks metronomically between guitarist Alice Go’s 12-string and bassist Bella’s chugging four.
It’s not all style over character though. Rakel tells an anecdote about a YouTube comment and fan favourite ‘Somebody’ is preceded by problems with a broken mic that, somehow, make the band seem all the more disarming and real. ‘Act My Age’ is a traditional punk tune in a ’77 fashion before ‘FUU’ marks the high-point in the night. It’s as riotous and fun as might be expected for a song whose lyrics mix Spice Girls references and the phrase “bad bitches”, whilst Rakel bounces from left to right like a ping-pong ball. They finish, soon after, with ‘Let’s Make Out’, and it’s hard to imagine a more fittingly joyous way to close.
Dream Wife’s merch stand is selling temporary tattoos on this tour – it’s not beyond the imagination that people may want something more permanent before too long.