- by Kevin Orton Rating: Release Date: Label:
The Dream Syndicate’s new album, How Did I Find Myself Here? Is one the best things I’ve heard this year. A welcome return from a critically lauded yet, generally underrated band. As their performance at New York’s Bowery Ballroom goes to show, the band have lost none of what their formidable reputation is built on. Strong songs with subversive humor and jangling guitars that go on near psychedelic improvisational sprees. With the exception of stellar guitarist, Jason Victor, this is the same Dream Syndicate line up that brought you their classics. In addition, on hand was the former keyboardist from Green On Red, another band from the Paisley Underground halcyon days.
After a great opening act in Television’s Richard Lloyd, Steve Wynn and company took the stage. Wynn looking trim and well in a polka dot shirt and blue suit. Kicking off with ‘Halloween’ from their classic, Days of Wine and Roses they wasted no time in getting lost in the music. Wynn going on an impressive, lengthy solo on the guitar with Victor and the rest of the band going along for the ride. Helluva way to start a gig.
Let’s face it, most of the crowd were 50 or older. As for the guy at the foot of the stage bobbing his head with a manic look of awe, most of the week he’s known simply as “dad.” But tonight, he was Dream Syndicate’s biggest fan, rocking out with half starved abandon.
Most of the set featured live workouts form the new album, most notably, a dark, driving, ’80 West’ and ‘Out of My Head’. ‘Filter Me Through You’ also worked magnificently. On the scathing, yet dreamlike ‘Like Mary’, Wynn and the band brought it all down to a more intimate level. Less successful was the title track from the new album which at times verged on slow jam territory and went on far too long. At the end of which, Wynn humbly asked, “Did that work?”. He was greeted with an almost too enthusiastic, “Yes!” I won’t say it, didn’t. But it wasn’t the most compelling part of the evening. Exciting for the band maybe, less so for the crowd.
Elsewhere, however, the band raised the roof with furious versions of ‘Medicine Show’ and ‘Days of Wine and Roses’. All I can say is, what a treat. The Dream Syndicate were always a band I appreciated but seeing them live, that appreciation has given way to love. Not only do they live up to their reputation, they surpass it.