Gig Review: The Dream Machine at The Bodega

Words: Maddie Dinnage
Photos: Josh Dwyer
Monday 08 May 2023
reading time: min, words

Maddie Dinnage took a trip to The Bodega to see The Dream Machine's captivating set...


Psychedelic indie-rock band The Dream Machine are notorious for transforming any live space into an atmospheric dreamscape. Following a successful series of experimental EPs, the band released their debut full-length record on April 28, titled Thank God! It’s The Dream Machine. This is a band whose reputation certainly precedes them; I thought it was time to take a visit to The Bodega to find out for myself.

I arrived in time to catch the latter part of Fat Bamboo’s opening set. It wasn’t my first time seeing this band live, and I’m certain it won’t be my last. Much like The Dream Machine, this Nottingham-based four piece draws inspiration from hallucinogenic experience, minus the hallucinogens. A focus upon sensory experience is brought to the fore, layering multiple instrumentals upon one another to give a sense of carefully crazed ecstasy. Perhaps the most striking aspect to seeing this band perform live is their tendency to switch roles throughout. It becomes impossible to pinpoint what I call the “beating heart” of the band. Each member is a component to a delicate, yet energetic, balance of creative expression.


The Dream Machine’s headline set felt to be the natural progression to their predecessors, their crowd suspended in a state of joyful delirium. They kicked things off with I Still Believe (In Jim Jones), a track teeming with a power struggle between grunge and groove. The energetic pulse of electric guitarist Matt Gouldson’s wah-wah pedal further subjected listeners to their psychedelic trance. After Baby Run came a natural slippage into White Shadow Blues, a track from the band’s latest LP. The steady baseline of Jack Inchboard’s bass guitar and Isaac Salisbury’s symbols were playfully disrupted by Gouldson’s more tumultuous electric riffs.

The band performed Always on my Mind for the first time, which prompted lead-singer Zak McDonnell to grimace in anticipation. The track made no haste in carting listeners away in a runaway train of twangy guitar riffs, leaving me feeling like the antagonist in an old western movie. Especially upon hearing the band’s latest tunes live, it becomes clear to hear inspirations from 60s blues and jazz bleeding into the tracks.

The sun-bleached polaroid-picture nostalgia of the 1960s blues scene quickly descended into the hellish depths of hard-rock freakbeat. Perhaps their best track of the night, the band performed TV Baby / Satan’s Child, revelling in an underworld of blood-red strobe lights. McDonnell’s true rock’n’roll vocal growl and the screams of Gouldson’s throaty electric guitar are what the best kinds of nightmare are made of.


It was Lola in The Morning which proved to be a fan favourite. It was the first song I’d ever heard from The Dream Machine and is slightly more soulful in comparison to their other tracks. They hooked the audience with the catchiest little guitar riff at the start of the track - think an amped-up rock-version of Phoebe Bridgers’ Kyoto. The drum and bass layers really were the driving forces of this tune, setting the perfect foundations for the other musical elements to really lean into it.

I have a strong suspicion that The Dream Machine might just be the next big thing in the psychedelic rock-scene. Having supported The Lathums on their latest string of live gigs, this band really holds their own, bringing together a whole host of influences to create a hallucinogenic tonal landscape. Their new album Thank God! It’s The Dream Machine is a real testament to their technical genius and deserves to be listened to with complete mental transfixion. Trust me, you’ll feel like you’re ascending.

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