Show Review

Dreamers @ The Grog Shop 3/30

Lisa Sanchez

There aren't a lot of bands that get me to dance at a show. In public. Without any sort of intoxicant or money involved. Dreamers, a New York dream pop threesome, ceremoniously broke that mold for me at their March 30 show at the Grog Shop. The trio play an intoxicating mix of synth keyboards, driving bass lines, and singer Nick Wold's dreamy (I know, you saw it coming) vocal stylings.

Dreamers formed in 2014, the band has gotten major media attention from Billboard, Vice, and Alternative Press. The band is currently touring in support of their recently released EP You Are Here featuring "DRUGS" which I like to think of as the best sounding criticism of millenials recorded in this generation. 

The band just got off of playing SXSW, and the Grog Shop show was the first time they ever played in Cleveland. The band sounded great and had excellent stage presence. After playing "Shadows" someone in the crowd yelled, "Play that same song again" and Wold responded, "That's not conventional in our society." then quipped that their tour was now called the "Fuck Convention Tour."

I appreciated Dreamer's natural stage presence and banter with the audience. The big downside of their show was that their set was unfortunately short. The band simply hasn't built up an extensive back catalog yet to really deliver the momentum and strength of their sound. But, hearing the band seamlessly slip from the surf-rock and synthy "Wolves (You Got Me)" into the appropriately named dance anthem "It's Never Too Late to Dance" is invigorating and definitely got me dancing despite my carefully coiffed air of suavity and composure. Bassist/keyboardist Marc Nelson also single handedly played the bass and handled the keyboard interludes, which I just appreciated from an aesthetic level.
                                                                                    (Sanchez/ 2016)
​Before the show, Nelson took the time to answer some questions I sent Dreamers about their experience on SXSW, their process while recording You Are Here, and the band's image as magic space rockers.

SXSW just wrapped up. How was your experience?

Nelson: SXSW was incredible.  A real marathon, but we had an amazing time and great shows.  

Was SXSW the biggest festival you've ever played?

Nelson: Maybe not the biggest, but definitely the craziest in some ways. Most festivals you play one set a day!  But we love it. We were able to see some friend's bands play and hang out.  There's nothing else quite like Austin during SXSW.

What's your favorite part about playing in front of a new audience?

Nelson: Hopefully making new fans. We just really enjoy meeting people.  It's one of the greatest aspects of what we do, we get to connect with so many different people all over the country. It's exciting. We are all there because we love music. There is a sense of community that way.

You guys are currently in the middle of a tour that began in early March. What is the craziest show you've played to date?

​Nelson: Our sold out show in Brooklyn!! It felt amazing playing our native Brooklyn to so many friends and fans.  Before this tour we played some big shows in Canada where we crowd surfed. That felt pretty crazy. 

Considering you're playing Cleveland next week, have you guys ever been to Ohio before?

​Nelson: Oh yes.  We've been through Ohio a couple of times. We have friends in Columbus. It's always a good time.  We've never played in Cleveland, though so we're really looking forward to rocking Grog Shop.

If a fan is coming to see Dreamers for the first time, what will their experience be like?

Nelson: We hope it will be a moment of transcendence that forever changes your perspective on life and our place in it. Or just good times and a being present together for some minutes of our lives. We really do seek to shed the mundane and find a greater place with our audience, whatever that means in the moment.

Dreamers premiered You Are Here last month on Billboard. What inspired the EP's sound compared to your previous work?

Nelson: The sound has evolved through our extensive touring and performing. We've been all over the country several times now as a band. You pick up things, you hear things, you discover things. They all become internalized in some way.  Also, we were able to record in an incredible studio, formerly Sound City, through our label Fairfax Recordings. All top notch vintage analog gear. The ghosts of legendary albums lingering in the air. It certainly had a tangible effect.

What were the biggest challenge you faced while recording You Are Here?

Nelson: The biggest challenge was choosing which songs were going to make it onto the album!  We have a lot of songs we're eager to share, which is a good thing.

Brooklyn is producing a ton of high-quality, unique, music right now. What's it like to be from that scene?

Nelson: Brooklyn is an amazing incubator of creative energy.  On the east coast, it really attracts a lot of the artists. So you are constantly seeing, hearing and collaborating on creative endeavors.  Also, NYC can be a grind so there is a sense of community amongst musicians.  Everyone is in it together, just trying to make something great. 

You guys show your roots a lot in your music by having an uncommon, but defined style. What are some of your main influences?

Nelson: Everything from the Beatles to Nirvana to the Strokes to all our contemporaries in the alt rock space.  We listen to it all. There is definitely a strong fondness for the 90's grunge era, but we aren't trying to recreate that. It's just another part of the DNA and we're proud of it.  At the end of the day we're trying to put it all in a blender and having something new come out.

The band's aesthetic seems to be very psychdelic and trippy, but still poised. What kind of visual art speaks to you?

Nelson: We love surrealism, glitch art, anything that challenges the validity of normal perception. The name of our band speaks to our fixation on all the symbolism and unusual imagery of dreams.

Your band has written one of the happiest “Drug” songs I've ever heard. Was that intentional or just your natural style?

​Nelson: It's kind of a playfully sarcastic song, especially using "Drugs" as a larger metaphor.  There are two layers to it and that was certainly intentional.

Dreamers recently formed in 2014, but you've gotten praise from major news sources such as Billboard and Alternative Press. Did you think you would make so much progress in such a small amount of time?

​Nelson: When we started the band, there was such a spark of creativity and enthusiasm that all we thought about was, "we have to do this, we have to record the songs, and we have to start playing shows."  From there, it's been a lot of hard work and one incredible milestone after the next, but day to day, we just think about doing it with everything we have to give.  If there is an audience and we get to play, it's a damn good day.

Now that you're enjoying more visibility in the music scene, how do you see Dreamers changing as your career progresses?

​Nelson: We are so committed to the moment that we kind of keep our eyes on what's directly in front of us. We'd love to start touring abroad. Bigger shows, more fans, more songs.  We just love doing it. Everything is in flux, music, people, culture...reinvention is important, as is staying true to your roots is too. Music is from the heart, but it's also an escape/entertainment. We shall see. 

In your “manifesto” you give us a few hints about what it means to be a Dreamer including being creative, boundless, and unaltered. Is that philosophy you abide by in everything?

Nelson: We try to. We've dedicated our lives to music and all the risks and glory that go with it.  We genuinely believe that the world can be a better place if people are fearless, inclusive, and pursuing their passions and hopes.  We aim to inspire that in ourselves and through our music.

What's the most important thing you want the public to know about you?

Nelson: We love what we do. We are  incredibly grateful for all of the support. We're not going to stop doing it.  Cosmic love. Let's enjoy life completely.