Date: October 28th, 2019
Venue: Club Academy, Manchester
Support: Normandie / Static Dress
In the space of two and a half years, Dream State have managed to catapult themselves from Welsh local upstarts into one of the most exciting new names in British post-hardcore, proving the power that one song (‘White Lies’) can have.
In that time, the band have acquired a lot of hype, along with expectations as to whether they can not only deliver the goods live, but can also amass enough substantial material to make their eagerly-anticipated debut album, ‘Primrose Path’, a worthy listen. With all of the above signed, sealed, and delivered, they’re now showcasing their new cuts on the road for the first time.
Kicking things off on the bill are newcomers Static Dress , who are so fresh out of the womb that they’ve only got one song to their name, at least just one that’s out for public consumption anyway. Said track, ‘clean.’, makes an early appearance, and obviously gets the only sing-along moment for their set this evening.
As for what’s left on offer, the Leeds quartet offer a mixed yet finely executed bag. At one moment they explode like ‘Vanity’ era Eighteen Visions, sometimes they’re the long-delayed UK answer to the dearly missed The Bled, at other moments they emanate Finch‘s heavier moments, and a couple of times frontman Olli Appleyard delivers an Imogen Heap-esque vocoded passage to an electronic backdrop. In short, Static Dress are still keeping their cards to their chest, and us eager to know more.
Sweden’s Normandie  have a bit of a shaky start to their set when just a few seconds in Håkan Almbladh loses all sound coming from his guitar. It takes a bit of a shuffle during opener for the band to regain their composure, but by the time we make our way to the more built for the crowd cut ‘White Flag’, they finally find their stride again.
The talent of Philip Strand and his vocal chops are undeniable, at times sounding like he could even go toe-to-toe with the likes of Issues frontman Tyler Carter, but otherwise it’s hard to feel any sincere give from the remaining three members. Still, Strand manages to command a wall of death midway through their set, and the unveiled live debut of a new song called ‘Jericho’ definitely gives promise that Normandie will be back sooner rather than later, and hopefully primed to give it their all.
Coming out and pouncing right into new album opener ‘Made Up Smile’, it seems like Dream State  have injected a hit of adrenaline throughout the room, and it’s obvious from the get go that the room of fans is theirs to control. Recent single ‘Hand In Hand’ follows up, and the soaring voices of the crowd pulsate throughout the Club Academy, at times almost overpowering that of frontwoman CJ Giplin.
Album single choices ‘Open Windows’, ‘Twenty Letters’, and ‘Primrose’ all also prove to already be worthy contenders in the band’s arsenal that’ll no doubt be set staples for many years to come; the former seeing some menacing screams from Giplin which rear their head again in the latter whilst guitarists Aled Evans and Rhys Wilcox alongside drummer Jamie Lee help facilitate them into a tank-like delivery, especially during the chugging breakdown of ‘Primrose’.
What has aided (and continues to aid) Dream State to the forefront of their peers, however, is not only the dark and vulnerable lyrics that Gilpin has shared from pen to paper and eventually to microphone, or her undeniable vocal prowess, but how the stories of pain and tribulation she shares are entirely relatable. But it’s not a story of doom and gloom or woe is me; at several moments throughout the evening she implores those suffering to be open and honest with the loved ones in their life, and how doing so can actually protect you from harm.
That is when she’s not climbing upon the barrier, however, or surfing the crowd, who hoist her above them like she’s gliding in the air. The fans give it a go themselves in waves during breakthrough hit ‘White Lies’ (during which Gilpin nearly face plants the stage, ouch), and with the exhilarating one-two encore finale of ‘New Waves’ and ‘In This Hell’, it’s hard to see a future where Dream State don’t continue to soar over the next two and a half years and beyond.
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.