Review: Dream Syndicate Band ‘Finds’ Its Way Back at El Rey

Dream Syndicate - Photo by Bernadette Rose Hilgeman
Dream Syndicate - Photo by Bernadette Rose Hilgeman


Prophets of doom are trying to convince us guitar rock is going the way of the dinosaur, and they’ll point to all the R and B songs filling up the pop charts as proof. These prophets make a strong case, too. However, The Dream Syndicate’s leader Steve Wynn, and his amazing lead guitarist Jason Victor, seemingly didn’t get that memo. The group’s home town return concert at the El Rey was loud, in large measures dissonant, and ultimately a wonderful night filled with the best Rock ‘N’ Roll noise.

The band is touring behind its stellar comeback album, How Did I Find Myself Here?, and performed all its songs, along with a smattering of older favorites. The group is so confident in its new material, it closed with the record’s title song and even encored with its track “Glide.” Other album cuts that came off well live included the on-the-road narrative “80 West” and the thought-clearing “Out of My Head,” which, with Victor’s aggressive soloing, likely cleared as many sinuses as heads this night.


The rejuvenated band reached back for “Halloween” to open this show, and saved vintage nuggets, including “That’s What You Always Say” and “The Days of Wine and Roses,” to close the show on a high note. The group also brought back original bassist Kendra Smith to sing the woozy “Too Little, Too Late,” and also reprise her lead vocal for “Kendra’s Dream,” also off the new album. Smith’s voice has weathered a bit over time, but this only gives it added MILF-y sexiness.

In this age where groups must many times tour just to earn money, as music sales have nearly ceased to be an income source, it’s not unusual for older bands to reform for a quick money-grab. You can’t level that money-hungry accusation against The Dream Syndicate, though, because this four-piece looked and sounded ‘all in’ tonight. How did the band find itself here? Who really cares. It’s just a blessing they made it back with all their blistering sonic powers still intact.