DREAMCAR Electrify Irving Plaza, NYC 5-19-17

DREAMCAR Electrify Irving Plaza, NYC 5-19-17

Sometimes, things are meant to be. In the case of the new band calling themselves DREAMCAR, the story began some time ago when No Doubt’s Tony Kanal (bass), Tom Dumont (guitar), and Adrian Young (drums) joined up with AFI/Blakq Audio Singer Davey Havok to begin writing and demoing music together. Interesting right? Well the guys kept the project under wraps for quite a while and then stories began to surface that the forces were in fact joining up to release an album together, and yes, tour! Exciting to hear, many wondered, what exactly is DREAMCAR? Well the answer is simple, it is not No Doubt or AFI, but this is not at all a bad thing. Unifying their ideas, they came together to create a unique New Wave like sound and on May 12, 2017 released their debut full-length to the world. 

With the album in hand, a list of sold out West Coast dates completed, on Friday, May 19th, nascent New Wave band made their first visit to New York City. As mentioned, DREAMCAR features members of legendary Ska Punk band No Doubt as well as Punk/Alternative veterans AFI, and the big night in the city saw fans of both No Doubt’s Kanal, Young, and Dumont dancing alongside fans of AFI/Blaqk Audio’s Havok. Smatterings of AFI t-shirts and No Doubt accessories could be seen throughout the dimly-lit Irving Plaza, but as the evening progressed, fans of these seemingly separate bands morphed into full-fledged supporters of DREAMCAR.

Before the main event, mysterious and rarely-seen Electronic/Indie outfit Superet warmed up the eager crowd. With only one song currently available on streaming services, Superet are still building their online presence and forging a name outside of the Los Angeles scene from which they were born. Band members Matt Blitzer (guitar/vocals), Patrick Kelly (bass), Alex Fischel (keyboards), and Sam K.S. (drums) took the stage to a darkened room full of fans who were unsure of what to expect from this little-known group.

The band kicked off their set with a fast-paced track that was a fun mix of Electronic and Indie. With vocals reminiscent of bands like Phoenix and Passion Pit, Superet added in a mix of crazy synth sounds to create a unique sound that made them seem well-suited as an opener for Dreamcar. However, the majority of the band played facing one another, while only the vocalist faced the audience, making it difficult for the crowd to become fully engaged in spite of Superet’s energetic set.

Mid-way through their thirty minute show, the band played “Pay It Later,” a fuzzy Indie Rock tracks in the vein of The Strokes, followed by “Comes as a Relief,” during which the vocalist jumped from the stage and attempted to get the crowd signing along. Typical of the too-cool New York City crowd, many fans simply continued to politely watch the last of the band’s set, though some were beginning to dance along. That said, Superset were not only interesting, they also won over a good portion of normally very tough to please New Yorkers. 

As Irving Plaza’s main floor finally began to pack in a decently-sized crowd, the members of DREAMCAR finally filed out onto the stage to massive cheers from the waiting crowd. Packed tight, when Young, Dumont, Kanal took the stage, soon to follow was Havok in a head-to-toe salmon pink suit. In addition to the four core DREAMCAR members, talented backup singers Ijeoma Njaka and Dessy Di Lauro as well as Keyboard/Saxophone extraordinaire Gabrial McNair – who has previously played with No Doubt and was a touring member of Tegan & Sara among his myriad other impressive credits – joined the band so that each track on DREAMCAR’S self-titled debut could be perfectly recreated.

As the band began their set with “After I Confessed,” the first track off their debut, it became clear that DREAMCAR is a force to be reckoned with. Though the band’s debut dropped only a week before, the crowd seemed to already know each and every lyric to the ’80s-inspired opening track, and the band responded in kind. From the moment he took the stage, Havok had the crowd enraptured by his flamboyant, flirtatious stage presence as he always does, regardless of which on-stage persona he slips into. With their next track, “The Assailant,” Kanal showed off his incredible skills with the bass with his fast-paced, bouncing bass lines. As he did for the majority of the show, Kanal stood as close as possible to the edge of the stage and fed off the energy from the dancing crowd.

Next up was the slower, bass and drum driven track “Born To Lie” that put the spotlight on Young, who kept the energetic pace up without missing a single beat behind his glittering red drum kit. Equally impressive were the performances from singers Njaka and Di Lauro, both of whom tirelessly danced and sang along to each song. With the sultry “Slip on the Moon,” Havok began shedding layers of his suit as the entire crowd – boys and girls and everyone in between – went wild. Once again feeding off that energy, Kanal got the crowd amped up by doing some impressive jumps from Young’s drum riser. Following that, “The Preferred” saw Havok in full performer mode as he made the absolute most out the stage.

Since DREAMCAR’S music is so heavily inspired by the New Wave and Pop of the ’70s and ’80s, it made perfect sense that they would do at least one cover, and first up was one of David Bowie’s biggest hits, “Moonage Daydream.” Havok’s passionate vocal performance was incredible to watch and was among one of his best of the evening, and Kanal, Dumont, Young and McNair managed to both beautifully recreate the classic track while making it entirely their own.

Following that trip to the past was the snappy, Talking Heads-inspired “On The Charts,” and after “Do Nothing,”  “Every Lonely,” and “Do Nothing,” DREAMCAR played one of their most fun and Poppy tracks, the deceptively grim “All the Dead Girls.” The song was as much of a joy live as it is on the album, and the energy from the crowd reached a high-point when Havok jumped from the stage and joined the crowd at the barricade for the song’s infectious chorus. Since the band’s debut is only forty short minutes, it was time to fit another cover into their set, this time being INXS’ “Don’t Change,” a song which AFI also covered as a B-side for their 2006 album Decemberunderground. Then the band once again showed off their impeccable musicianship with “Show Me Mercy,” the excellent closer of the recently released debut album.

To finish off their set with “the last song we have,” as Havok put it, DREAMCAR played their catchy first single, “Kill For Candy.” Giving eager fans the first taste of DREAMCAR’S sound, this banger was released all the way back in early March, and nearly everyone in the crowd sang and danced along to it. Under blue and purple lights that matched the DREAMCAR album cover, each member of the band joined together for one final, theatric bow before filing off the stage and leaving the crowd buzzing.

By the end of the night DREAMCAR had played every song off their debut, and each was even more fun live than its recording. In addition, the two covers played were a real treat to watch. Those who made the effort to spend their Friday night with Dreamcar should consider themselves lucky to have seen the band in an intimate club setting, not only because AFI and No Doubt are normally only seen in larger spaces, but also because DREAMCAR are undoubtedly ready to take on those bigger settings themselves, no doubt (get it?).

Next time DREAMCAR come around – hopefully very soon – the venue will be much larger. For now, though, DREAMCAR will be continuing the rest of their East Coast tour with dates in Toronto, Detroit, and Chicago. Following that, let us hope that DREAMCAR keep building upon the incredible groundwork they have laid as they accelerate in fans’ hearts. 

Photos by: Aintellin Photography

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Katherine Szabo
Katherine Szabo
katherine.szabo1@gmail.com

Katherine has been living for music since she was a young teen. Using her B.A. in English Literature and (almost complete) M.A. in English and Creative Writing, she hopes to combine her penchant for Punk music and live shows with her passion for writing in order to make exciting content for fellow fans. On the side, she writes about her two other passions: books and video games. 

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