SUPPORT: Chapter and Verse, Distant Blue
REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
PHOTOS by ADAM SPECK
Welsh alternative rock/post-hardcore quintet Dream State are currently a band very much on the up, having had a fantastic 2017, what with playing the Reading festival, becoming label mates with the likes of Architects and Northlane, and their single ‘White Lies’ getting over a million Spotify plays and 3.5 million YouTube views.
As part of the band’s recent UK headline tour, they stopped by at what I consider to be Derby’s premier rock and metal venue, The Hairy Dog, joined by Londoners Chapter and Verse and local lads Distant Blue, who were first up on stage.
The two major differences I noticed from when I had been at the venue in January to catch Canvas, Skywalker and Revealer, was that it seemed much busier, and that there must have been improvements made to the sound system, as you could literally feel the vibrations emanating from the instruments.
Distant Blue played a decent set full of highly-energetic pop-punk, however, it was nothing spectacular, something the guys admitted when I spoke to them afterwards.
Unfortunately for them, there were a few teething problems, what with the tuning of the guitars, but on a positive note, they took it all in good humour, with frontman Ed Binding joking, “I really need to invest in a tuner!“, prompting some laughs from the crowd.
However, everything seemed to come together well for the quartet’s finale, their latest single, ‘Amber Leaf’, where they put on a flawless performance, and I noticed that some of the crowd were singing along to the lyrics.
Chapter and Verse, the next outfit to play, made an atmospheric start, with the band’s vocalist Josh Carter standing still, singing softly.
After a few minutes of this, Josh then shouted to the crowd, “How you’re doing? We’re Chapter and Verse!“, ad at that moment, the stage, which up to that point, had been mostly shrouded in darkness, exploded into a burst of frantic light flashes.
At the same time, the sound became much more energetic, with the vocals becoming harsher.
It was a passionate set, with each of the four members, even drummer Ash Morton, being animated throughout, and listening to it, it was easy to understand why Metallica legend Lars Ulrich has given the lads his seal of approval.
Josh sure knows how to work a crowd, constantly rallying them, and asking everyone if they were enjoying themselves, which resulted in an almighty cheer erupting across the room.
However, when he asked them if they had enjoyed Distant Blue’s performance, there was a rather more muted response, which I personally thought was slightly hard on the young four-piece.
Before launching into another track, Josh shouted, “If you know the words to this, sing along. If you don’t, just make it up!”
The band also previewed a few of the songs that will be featuring on their second EP, ‘Glow’, which the audience seemed to give their full approval, which bodes well for when the full EP is unveiled later this year.
Even a band of Dream State’s current calibre would have struggled to top Chapter and Verse, but then, they haven’t been tipped to be one of Kerrang! magazine’s hottest bands of 2018 for nothing.
Frontwoman CJ Gilpin gave a performance that matched their sound, light and cheerful one minute, heavy and aggressive the next, which literally had everyone jumping and swaying about.
CJ was also frank about her battles with anxiety and depression, both through song and the banter she engaged in with the crowd in between.
It was during one of these instances that the most heartfelt moment of the evening occured, when she dedicated one of the tracks on the setlist to her beloved pet dog, who was being put down the following day.
It is very rare that a band, no matter how big or small they are, has got the audience in the palms of their hands as effectively, and as quickly, as these guys.
It was little wonder then that when it was time for Dream State to depart the stage, pretty much the whole room was demanding an encore. After a couple of minutes, CJ emerged with her bandmates, laughed at the crowd, and joked, “You bastards!”
They went on to play a few more songs, which everyone eagerly lapped up.
Judging what I saw here, it will surely only be a small matter of time before Dream State, Chapter and Verse, and hopefully, Distant Blue, will be gracing bigger venues.
Dream State are playing at this summer’s Download festival, and if you’re going to that, then, if you can, please do make an effort to see them, you certainly won’t regret it.