The Dream Syndicate played ONCE Ballroom – 12/1

The Dream Syndicate, reunited vanguards of the Paisley Underground, played their first Boston-area show in roughly three decades at ONCE on Friday night, with support from founding Television guitarist Richard Lloyd and his band. 

Singer-guitarist Steve Wynn reactivated The Dream Syndicate – whose original run lasted from 1981-1989 – five years ago, but it was something of a soft reunion. There were festival dates here and a hometown show in their native California there, but only with the September release of new record How Did I Find Myself Here? has the group taken to the road in earnest. A packed Friday night crowd at ONCE greeted the band with a hero’s welcome, and there were clearly plenty of diehards in the room who’d been waiting a good long while to see them on stage again.

The current Dream Syndicate lineup features founders Wynn and drummer Dennis Duck, alongside longtime bassist Mark Walton and guitarist Jason Victor (plus intermittent guest keyboardist Chris Cacavas), and the foursome sounded fantastically fiery. They always did play a more urgently overdriven brand of psych-tinged jangle than most of their peers in the day, and they crank things up even further on stage now. Victor is the band’s relative newcomer, but he earns the spot with chops and a wildly expressive physicality to match the conviction of the rest of the group. They played a healthy chunk of new songs from the odds-defyingly strong How Did I Find Myself Here? and a spread of classics. Opening the set was a killer rendition of The Days of Wine and Roses‘ “Halloween,” and closing before the encore was the album’s kinetic title track.

Richard Lloyd, former foil to Television’s Tom Verlaine, also earned an enthusiastic reception for a set that mixed his solo material with a few Marquee Moon favorites. Lloyd’s aggressively nonchalant stage presence contrasted the evident passion of his tour-mates, but he and three piece band still sounded great. The man plays a fine guitar, and any opportunity to see him do it should be seized.

Check out photos from both sets below.