The Simple Becomes the SublimeDecember 9th, 2011
Dreamers of the Ghetto – Mercury Lounge – December 8, 2011
Romanticizing the awfulness of the American ghetto experience isn’t necessarily new, although perhaps the modalities have changed in 2011. Even Lupe Fiasco suggested that if urban life threatened any lionizing appeal, it was certainly outweighed by practical realities. Dreamers of the Ghetto entered themselves into this conversation with a stunning debut record, Enemy/Lover, and a fall tour in support of U.S. Royalty that stopped at Mercury Lounge last night
The four-piece Dreamers evokes a certain grittiness that befits the moniker—they’re underdogs dreaming of getting out or they’re solid outsiders dreaming of what happens within in the walls and streets of the American ghetto. Either way, the band pits wailing guitars against detached synthesizers, alongside pathos-rich vocals. This combination transmutes the band into the rarefied air of aspirational visionaries, hope-in-unseen believers armed with instruments.
Dreamers of the Ghetto closed the night with the breathy, seductive chorus of vocals of “Connection,” “Regulator” and the band’s thesis statement, “Tether.” Each song featured a central lyric loudly repeated and launched like projectiles into the minds and chests of the assembled audience: “When you’re gone I know you’re with me” (“Connection”), “I love your face/ I think you’re striking” (“Regulator”) and the fantastic and final “It’s just another door/ Tether on the other side” (“Tether”). Somehow these dark dreams of American terrors became beautiful; love, loss and fear of the urbane metastasizing into wide-open hymns and singable refrains. It was a dark pathos to be sure, but pathos all the same. —Geoff Nelson