Date: February 26th 2020
Venue: Boston Music Room, London
Support: Delaire, The Liar / Kermes
A name change may not mean much if it’s the same band, but when Kamikaze Girls changed their name to Cultdreams last year, it felt more than appropriate for their eclectic but caustic blend of punk, shoegaze, and goth influences.
With Cultdreams having released their second album ‘Things That Hurt’ back in August of last year, it’s time for their new anthems of political and personal angst to be played live. With this being the London stop of their headline tour, the Boston Music Room provides a spacious but intimate setting.
Opening proceedings are Leicester’s Kermes , who offer an immediate take on punk rock, but not without displaying itself in different facets. Guitarist and vocalist Emily Rose Teece‘s presence is certainly strong, vocally moving between strong melodic hooks to a slightly more aggressive shout.
The rest of the band can switch adeptly too, moving between Sonic Youth-esque tense sections before exploding into catharsis. Opening bands normally get the rough end of the stick when it comes to the sound mix, but Teece‘s guitar lines and solos add another distinctive touch to things, easing us in very nicely
Next up are Delaire, The Liar , a band who’ve been hotly tipped in some quarters, and it’s easy to see why. Offering a take on emo that feels contemporary but simultaneously doesn’t pander to the zeitgeist, their recent expansion from a duo to a three-piece could end up paying some dividends for them in the future.
There’s a lot of punch, and the band’s three-part harmonies are a welcome touch; guitarist/vocalist Ffin Colley‘s impressive vocal range cuts through, with his melodies being plain to hear. Based on tonight’s showing, their potential can only grow with time, as they clearly have the songs and energy. It’s worth keeping tabs on this lot.
For a band that are only a duo, there’s a wave of sounds from Cultdreams  that swirl around tonight’s venue, largely to Lucinda Livingstone‘s guitar effects and Conor Dawson‘s crashing drums, combining to create a maelstrom of sounds. That’s impressive enough, but some things are clearly more important. Their songs, both old and new, leave no topic too difficult to sing about, making for a feeling of catharsis and also hope.
Most of tonight’s cuts are taken from ‘Things That Hurt’, and a three-way punch kicks things off. ‘Born An Underdog, Still Living One’ is a great aspect of the way the sound can take over the venue, ‘Not My Generation’ is the band at their political best, with Livingstone‘s screams cutting through everything, and ‘Flowers On Their Graves’ feels as immediate as ever.
There’s still plenty of room for cuts from 2017’s ‘Seafoam’, though. ‘I Don’t Want To Be Sad Forever’ is still a classic mission statement from the band, highlighting as many oppressive societal norms as possible, and they feel at one with the audience when Livingstone moves away from the mic to scream the song’s opening lyric.
Another classic ‘KG Go The Pub’ gets an airing, and before the song, Livingstone reminds us to donate to Solidarity Not Silence, and that it also just happens to be the same week Harvey Weinstein has got his long-overdue come-uppance with a prison sentence. This defiant riposte to sex pests and filthy creeps everywhere certainly feels poignant now, and it’s a reminder that Cultdreams‘ music is a pointer to some to not only question and reflect on society, but also themselves.
‘Repent, Regress’ continues to bring the angst, but plenty of emotional weight comes with ‘Don’t Let Them Tell You Otherwise’, which is dedicated to the transgender and non-binary community.
As is the case for every band tonight, they’re wasting no time and delivering short but sweet sets, and Cultdreams feel no need to revel in a self-indulgent encore. ‘Seafoam’ cut ‘Berlin’ is given an airing, but the band close with ‘We Never Rest’, a song which cements just how needlessly stressful this world can be at times. Members of Kermes join them onstage to sing the song’s chorus, which makes for a communal feel.
Tonight’s show has proven that Cultdreams are perhaps one of the most important yet overlooked bands to exist, showing to marginalised groups of society that there can be hope, and at the same time holding up a mirror to the turbulent and uneasy times that we live in.