Live Review & Picture Book: Dreams SO Real at Smith’s Olde Bar

By Scott Roberts; Photos by Sue Volkert

Nostalgia can be a cruel mistress, and though most of us know this to be a fact (especially those of us who find themselves a little grayer and creakier than we’d like to admit), there seems to be an innate human instinct to routinely want to revisit one’s past. And though, intellectually, we understand turning back time is impossible, we still try now and then to make it happen emotionally. And for the older-than-usual (though, I must add, quite well-dressed, as many in the audience looked as if they had just come from a wedding or prom) revelers at Dreams So Real’s reunion show at Smith’s Olde Bar on Saturday, the band served as an able portal to the year 1990 or so.

Opening with “California,” one of the sunniest songs in the Athens trio’s songbook, guitarist/lead singer Barry Marler, bassist/harmony singer Trent Allen, and drummer Drew Worsham, were in fine form as they played nearly twenty songs, all but one of which (“Please Don’t Cry” from their rarities collection Nocturnal Omissions) was culled from their two Arista releases from 20-plus years ago, Rough Night in Jericho and Gloryline. In their heyday, DSR’s music possessed a transcendent quality and a heft that sounded timeless then and has taken on even more of that characteristic with the actual passage of time. Songwriter Marler’s lyrics are often imbued with vaguely spiritual or historical overtones (“Bearing Witness,” “Here Comes the Train”) and the three-piece’s anthemic musical delivery serves the songs’ subject matter perfectly. Allen’s harmonies give the band their signature sound, along with the forceful (yet never overpowering) drumming of Worsham, and Marler’s deft and underrated guitar work. And though there may have been no real surprises in the set list selection, some of the arrangements enjoyed a bit of expansion allowing Marler to show off his six-string prowess (set closer “Rough Night in Jericho”) and fans to sing along (“Open Your Eyes”).

A palpable joy was present both in the crowd of enthusiastic supporters and onstage among the musicians, who, despite not really playing together since their 2009 reunion at AthFest, were clearly enjoying performing these songs again as much as the audience enjoyed hearing them again. If nostalgia is indeed a cruel mistress, then let the affair begin.

PHOTOS By Sue Volkert

Full gallery after the jump.


  1. A review of my notes taken on the night of th
    is show reminded me that I failed to mention the inclusion in their set of the song “History” from the band’s debut album “Father’s House,” as well as their “latest” song, the 18-year-old post-“Gloryline” tune “Jingle-Jangle Man.” Thus, my assessment that their set list only included one song not from their two Arista releases was incorrect. I humbly apologise for this error.

    Scott R.

Leave A Comment!

%d bloggers like this: