Tucson rock 'n' roll quartet Dream Sick passed away in the loudest manner possible on Monday, Feb. 10, at Club Congress, at the age of 3. Friends and fans gathered stage-side as the band played its final show and departed for the history books. Dream Sick is preceded in death by its spiritual and musical forebears Sonic Youth. Like Sonic Youth, Dream Sick coalesced around a youth subculture, eventually defining it and bringing it to an audience who likely would have never known it existed.
The group's last performance was arguably its finest. The intertwining guitar motifs, powerful and imaginative drumming, and the fantastic vocal clashes of Jess Matsen and John Bullock aimed for the heavens and easily reached them. Drummer Matt Baquet anchored the already ambitious songs with tribal post-punk and pulsing disco beats, while Connor Gallaher justified his reputation as one of the most distinctive guitarists around.
Dream Sick is survived by its two albums, Morrkis (2012) and Dream Sick (2011), with a third posthumous record to be released later this year. The band began as a noisy rock ensemble playing all-ages venues and underground art spots while its members were pushing age 20. Their small and devoted following expanded, and with their modest success, they ingratiated their music, already growing at high velocity, into bigger venues. They also took the artists and musicians in their circle with them, giving everyone involved a level of exposure heretofore unlikely. Baquet was integral to this, organizing events that led to his current position as booker and DJ at Club Congress. He also founded the local culture website Jalph.net.
Matsen provided the songs, frequently discordant but pretty enough to earn acclaim from Tucson's upper echelon of respected musicians.
All former members will continue musical pursuits, but together they gave an unforgettable coming-of-age soundtrack to a sub-generation of young people who could do a lot worse than having Dream Sick represent them. The band nobly passed at the peak of their creativity and left a profound mark on their scene.
Brooklyn-based singer Frankie Rose, a sometime member of Dum Dum Girls, Crystal Stilts, and Vivian Girls, delivered the eulogy with her spiky and energetic new wave-inflected pop-rock. Her gorgeous and airy voice perfectly added an angelic quality to the proceedings, which were only celebratory.