Dynamic, eccentric and daring are just some of the ways in which you’d best describe the freshly formed super duo, DREAMS, a collaboration for the ages, between Aussie dance legend music Luke Steele (of Empire of the Sun), and rock royalty Daniel Johns (of Silverchair). Since the group's very recent inception, Dreams have been shaking things up with their forward thinking brand of live electronica.
Last Tuesday night, we were lucky enough to experience the magic when Dreams took to Opera House stage for their third ever live performance, as part of this year’s VIVID Music program. With only a few songs widely released, there was a great deal of anticipation in the lead up to their Opera House debut. Johns and Steele each bring something special and completely unique to the table, so we went in with an open mind and high expectations.
Dreams did not disappoint, with a completely mind-melting set from start to finish. Much like the duo themselves, every element was completely unconventional. Their years of experience as performers was abundantly clear as the pair commanded the stage from the instant they arrived on stage. Johns and Steele invited audiences to challenge their experiences as observers, taking us on sonic journey through a variety of genres and eras and their performance style was visionary and evocative, traversing the duo's plethora of unique influences.
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Much like the band name depicts, Dreams as a live performance is as vividly visual as it is aural. Marrying strong graphic imagery, dreamy star scapes and intense moments of fracas, the 80s synths and industrial electronic sounds worked in sync with the live instrumentals, and ethereal harmonies. From the sounds and visuals of an 80s prom, to the depths of the Berlin underground, Dreams really brought the house down.
Whilst we definitely enjoyed the entirely whacky performance, reviews were mixed, with many long term fans of Steele and Johns walking out mid performance. We went in not knowing what to expect, but many long term follower of the pair definitely seemed surprised by what Dreams brought in terms of their new, collective sound. What felt like a vivid acid trip at times, it’s not hard to see how some aspects were lost in translation, despite Johns and Steele flawlessly working the stage and the audience. There was a lot of energy both on the stage and off the stage, with the duo bringing audiences to their feet to dance along to their ‘Jelly Bird’ dance. A flightly manoeuvre that mimicked a bird flying, this was a signature dance move that duo proclaimed “even the drunkest person in the room” could dance along to. From robotic auto-tuned voices that gave us serious ‘Rick and Morty’ vibes to rhythm-centric bass lines, the performance was progressive and very futuristic. The Dreams performance felt like an artistic soundscape more than a concert at times, but we embraced it whole heartedly. In our view, the best kind of art is usually confronting, and often divisive. Is it really better to be safe, rather than sorry?
After what was a pretty magical set with their intricately layered electronica, Dreams closed out the night with their certified banger, ‘No One Defeats Us’. Their intense, and phantasmagoric performance has left us hanging for the duo's next release.
Photo credit: Daniel Boud via Sydney Opera House