It’s not too often I find a band whose work simply resonates, and it’s even less often that band is an all-girl punk rock band. But lo and behold: Dream Wife. And what a fucking dream they are. Comprising vocalist Rakel Mjöll, bassist Bella Podpadec and guitarist Alice Go, Dream Wife formed during art school in Britain in 2014. What started as an elaborate art project turned into an outlet for the trio after they recorded a few songs together, and started getting booked for shows. They’ve since toured Europe and the UK, and last week they released their debut self-titled album.
I actually had the opportunity to see Dream Wife play in London last April, and having never heard of them before, I didn’t really go into the show with high expectations, only to be blown away. Needless to say, when I heard they were in Sydney for Laneway Festival, I knew I had to see them again. Slotted for the Lansdowne Hotel on a Tuesday night, the show was never going to be a total rager. But, halfway through, a bra was flung onto the stage and hung off one of the mics while a screaming crowd watched on, so I’d say the Icelandic-Brightonians definitely squeezed every bit of rowdiness out of a school night-crowd possible.
Kicking off with “Hey Heartbreaker”, Mjöll took the room head-on with equal parts bratty aggression and sultry crooning. The energy crackled at 1000% the entire show, and Mjöll possessed an enigmatic ability to connect with and challenge every person in the room as if to say,”Here we are. This is what we’re saying. What’re you going to do about it?” It’s impossible not to draw comparisons between Dream Wife and their punk rock predecessors, and at times through “Fire” and “Love Without Reason”, the parallels to Yeah Yeah Yeahs were almost uncanny.
From the outset, Dream Wife made it clear they weren’t there to mess around, bringing the mood to boiling point when Mjöll cleared the front and called all the ladies forward: “I would like this part to only be bad bitches. Go to the back — I see a bad bitch behind you,” she instructed. “Let her through.” In total command of the room, the trio eased into standout cut “Somebody”, weaving in and out of a tamed sass to the audience’s screaming assertion. The crowd projected all of their energy right back, all the “bad bitches” in the front reaffirming the message, “I am not my body/ I’m somebody.” The band rounded out the evening with “FUU” and “Let’s Make Out”, bringing patrons up on stage, and inviting everyone in the room to a scream-it-out catharsis.
I don’t know if Dream Wife could have come at a more important time. The world is in shambles with the current political climate, and gender values are experiencing a global (and much overdue) shift, and music like this has the potential to be a soundtrack to this change. Dream Wife epitomise aspects of female experience that are often skimmed over amidst conversations of #MeToo, which can often be pretty rigid and serious, because it is serious. That’s not to say these experiences work in opposition to those of such movements; instead, they compliment the movement. It’s a time when people’s perceptions of not only women, but of what women can do, is starting to transform, and Dream Wife are a welcome accolade to that shift.
Dream Wife are full of both subtle and not so subtle fuck yous to the patriarchy; their discography is a celebration of the strength of a woman, and perhaps most importantly, its executed with grace that only a woman could pull off. They’re loud, they’re grungy, they’re unapologetic, and they’re fun. If there’s an opportunity for you to see Dream Wife, I’d definitely recommend you take it. You might now walk away a changed feminist, but at the very least you’ll get a damn good show out of it.
Photo by Shot By Fox.