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Live Report: Dream Wife at Koko
Gabriel Smith , November 1st, 2018 14:50

Punk and power and the possibility of getting your dick cut off

Photos by Naomi Yates

I stand at the back during tonight’s gig because I am frightened that Dream Wife will cut my dick off. They are explicit in their threats: specifically, to fuck you up, and cut you up. I stand well back, out of reach. It is Halloween, and Dream Wife frighten me.

Dream Wife make me think: how much time do you spend in space that is not yours? One of my many privileges, as a straight, white-passing, conservatively dressed male is that I can walk into any space I want and nobody is surprised to see me. I am almost always the norm, rarely the other. I will never fully know the scope of what that has done to me, or fully understand what it’s like to perceive the majority of public space as not necessarily welcoming.

Others, of course, have felt unwelcome in spaces that should, rightfully, belong to them. Dream Wife live - and their excellent support, Big Joanie and Queen Zee - remind you of the etymology of ‘punk’. It’s been co-opted by dickheads, ‘punk’ was once a slur against sex workers, and then homosexuals. We need acts like Dream Wife: those with the implicit understanding of the loaded-ness, the sheer weight of the word.

We need more spaces like the spaces Dream Wife create. The reclamation of punk, or any slur, is an endless battle to abstain from normative-ness. To be militantly willing to stop the encroaching MOR. To be violently principled about staying on the edge of whatever everyone else is doing. London is not a good town: it gets better the more rooms I feel unwelcome in.

The politics is nothing without solid sonics: Dream Wife kill it. The backline is tight, taut, funky. Rakel Mjöll’s vocals are more compelling the further she pushes her range. On the album she’s Hollywood-scary, but live she’s closer to Halloween Betty Davis. Dream Wife’s power really comes from guitarist Alice Go, who sounds huge. Just so huge. Alice Go occupies sonic space. With Alice Go in a venue, playing guitar, there is barely room for anything else.

Music that sounds this good, and is righteous too: that’s the shit. Dream Wife are the shit. We know the diagnosis and Dream Wife are the cure. I am sick of people pointing out cultural problems and not providing solutions. I think most people are sick of that. Big Joanie are a cure. Queen Zee are a cure. Dream Wife are a cure. I am excited for people to know that. I am excited about the direction Dream Wife could take people in.

Also: more bands should do costume changes. Costume changes are cool. If your band does not do costume changes, your band is not very good.