Bad Dreems cement their place as SA's most important rock band

Review: Bad Dreems

Bad Dreems continue to add to their legacy as a musical and cultural tour de force in South Australia this decade.


Bad Dreems are on the road to cementing their place in South Australian rock folklore having taken the mantle as this state’s best rock band in recent years. With a couple of great supports their sold out home town show at The Gov will be talked about for a while.

Opening band, Adelaide’s own the Bitter Darlings had a very warm, full sound with a bit of an Americana vibe, verging on but not quite crossing over into country. The sound of the lapsteel in combination with the rich guitar chords worked a treat live, while the riffs rang out with classic 70s guitar tones. A strong start to the night by a local band who know the art to a great balanced live sound.

The Creases are one of the most likely looking indie rock bands we’ve seen from Australia recently. Like a band out of London during the naughties rock renaissance, their skinny black t-shirt mod haircut look never really dies. But it’s their crisp bass sound and huge Kasabian like guitar riffs which shows a very early maturity for a new band. The live songs just buzz with the band well paced songs getting the punters into it. Watch this space, or better yet, just buy a ticket to their next show if you like tight naughties indie rock.

With the huge Bad Dreems West End logo behind them, Adelaide’s premiere band walked on stage to rapturous applause. With Miles Wilson furiously pumping out beats and guitarist Alex Cameron in a relaxed daze nailing his now signature riffs the band was in fine form. Ben Marwe’s voice sounded a little hoarse in parts, possibly due to this being the last show in the tour and James Bartold’s bass lacked its normal cut through, but on the whole, the band’s gutsy pub rock sound was solid. When they rolled out well known single “Dumb ideas” from the previous album the already heaving moshpit expanded even more towards the back and pretty soon the whole venue was pumping.

The biggest surprise of the set was drummer Miles’ Dad on saxophone stepping out on stage for “Only Friend” and sticking around for some slower numbers, helping create a gorgeous soft live sound, a welcome departure from the band’s bread and butter. Understandably the politically charged title track “Gutfull” and major single “Mob Rule” were predictably well received. It has to be said though that  “By My Side” provided the best singalong from the new album with a passionate memorable chorus, plus a fantastic bass riff at the start. Another stand out from the album was “1000 Miles Away”, with the mix of more melodic and rocky numbers providing the crowd with enough variety to maintain momentum. The supports coming out on stage to dance and sing provided a great ending to the show, as did a shirtless Marwe leaping into the crowd.

For a variety of reasons South Australia has developed some major cultural issues around rock and indie rock music in this state in the past 20 years. Few bands have received airplay on Triple J and despite people whining about how the pokies have killed live music, very few punters see live local music without the national broadcaster’s seal of approval. With this in mind you have to realise how vitally significant Bad Dreems are to the culture and legacy of music in South Australia. Not since Superjesus have we had a rock band anywhere near this popular in the state (ignoring the Hilltop Hoods) and the potential for Baddies to influence other acts and alter the musical culture of this state is huge.

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