Fri, Jul 19
Show: 9:00 pm Doors: 8:00 pm
Triple Nickel
All Ages
King Dream

King Dream is a Bay Area rock ‘n’ roll band helmed by Oakland native Jeremy Lyon, a lifelong songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who crafts dive bar anthems with heart, brains and soul. Hard-rocking yet poignant, his music combines a love for American rock masters like Springsteen and Petty with ‘60s West Coast psychedelia and more contemporary torch-bearers like My Morning Jacket and The War on Drugs — all brought to life by a band of Northern California’s most in-demand players. 

Lyon has played Outside Lands and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, toured nationally and internationally, and also knows what it’s like to busk on the street. King Dream songs deftly balance hope and world-weariness. They seem wise beyond their years, and they also have a way of sneaking up on you. Their shout-along choruses and searing guitar solos are at home in a darkened saloon, to be sure, but also — you know the giddy, ragged vulnerability that arrives when you’ve been awake for way too long on a road trip? Between the good times and the clinks of beer bottles these songs inspire a wistfulness, deep in your bones, for a place you’ve never been. 

Glory Daze is King Dream’s first full-length since the band’s 2018 self-titled debut, and it represents a massive leap forward. Ambitious in scale and scope, it clocks in at 24 tracks, divided into three parts. Technically, these songs are a record of Lyon not only maturing as a lyricist and musician — experimenting with different production styles, moving easily between fist-pumping anthems and ballads and electronic and R&B-influenced sounds — but also developing into a self-sufficient producer and engineer, a silver lining to the constraints of the pandemic. 

Part One, or IV, released April 7, began as a four-song EP at the beginning of 2020; over the course of two years it grew into eight soulful alt-rock anthems, a snapshot of a very specific moment in time: 

“Oh my god this must be the longest year / lost summer fantasies turn to fears,” sings Lyon on “Lost Summer,” over a plaintive, jangly guitar line that wouldn’t be out of place on a mixtape with the Cars, the Replacements or R.E.M. “I don’t know what day it is, weeks to months, maybe years / and the truth is I miss the music, miss my friends / I miss the magic nights, we thought these times would never end.”

Written during the doldrums of the early pandemic, the track finds Lyon mourning both the abrupt end of his own extended adolescence and lamenting his little brother’s experience — graduating high school over Zoom and spending his first year of college without meeting any classmates. “When I was his age I was touring with my best friends in my mom’s minivan, playing music we believed in, making friends wherever we went,” says Lyon. “I didn’t know how to tell him what he was missing, and even if I could, or knew how, what good would it do?”

“Wish I Could Call You Now,” meanwhile, captures Lyon in a rocky moment with his now-wife, overcome by doubt, confusion and fear about whether the relationship could stand the test of time. “You’re gonna spend your brightest years / counting on a love that never appears / then you’re gonna panic and settle down / with the next best thing to come around,” he sings over a driving rhythm that name-checks Jim James while bowing at the altar of Tom Petty. “I been here all along / I had that fear but now it’s gone / they don’t know you like I do / they don’t know what we’ve been through.”

For Lyon, the evolution of the song — which appears in two versions on Glory Daze — reflects the growth of the relationship: “It went from a song that I kept like a secret, to a fist-pumping anthem, to a duet we now sing together.”

Part Two, or V, out January 19th, sees Lyon moving into a more experimental space, fusing bedroom R&B with psych-rock, and flexing new muscles in self-recording and production. 

On “The Wild Card,” a sexy, chilled-out synth groove that wouldn’t be out of place on a Childish Gambino record belies what Lyon describes as a lyrical panic attack. Written on the eve of the 2020 election, while fires decimated much of California, the track touches on the American political landscape, police brutality and his own shame about the lack of diversity in his music scene: 

“Falling farther into fascism we need a revolution / murder porn glued to your screen sedated in a debtor’s prison,” he intones. “Move to the suburbs where you feel safe / send your kids to the schools where they all look the same / everyone looks like their friends / now I feel like one of them.”

“The 2020 fires were a dystopian hellscape,” says Lyon. “We couldn’t go anywhere, we had no power, it rained ash, and looked like something out of Blade Runner. We watched people murdered by the law on YouTube. I felt like a hypocrite, wanting diversity, marching against police brutality for BLM, yet living in the country, in an overwhelming white friend group I’d found through playing indie rock and Americana music.”

But Glory Daze is also unmistakably a full-band effort, and its sound also reflects the group’s confidence and cohesion: What began as a studio band is now a tight-knit collective with decades of experience between them, including Adam Nash (guitar) and Nick Cobbett (drums), as well as Zak Mandel-Romann (bass), a close musical collaborator of Lyon’s since high school. 

Narratively, Glory Daze traverses vast territory: a period in which Lyon separated from, reconciled with, and married his now-wife (Caitlin Gowdey, Rainbow Girls, who appears on several tracks and plays keys live with King Dream when she can); toured and recorded as a sideman with a slew of Bay Area artists (Whiskerman, the Stone Foxes, M. Lockwood Porter); dealt with the grief, anxiety and loss of community wrought by a pandemic and years of sociopolitical turmoil; and careened into his 30s with a healthy dose of reflection, self-doubt and, ultimately, an audible sense of confidence and satisfaction. The result is an expansive, multifaceted album that invites the listener to climb in, lean back, and trust that getting there’s at least half the fun.  

“I make driving records,” says Lyon. “And this one’s about an hour-forty long, so I hope you’re going somewhere far.”

Mayor Grey