Dear Boy inspires swoons and sways at the El Rey

Dear Boy at the El Rey Theatre, October 28, 2022. Photo by S.Lo

With glowing effervescence, Dear Boy led a celebratory gathering with their family of fans in their biggest headline show thus far last Friday at the El Rey Theatre.

“This is our first time playing these songs live,” frontman Ben Grey beamed, “It was our only tether to all of you, working on these songs during the pandemic. Thank you so much for being here tonight.”

“Forever Sometimes,” the long-awaited debut album by the London-born, L.A.-based quartet (rounded out by guitarist Austin Hayman, bassist/vocalist Lucy Lawrence and drummer Keith Cooper) after three well-received EPs, is a dreamy 13-song collection filled with a piece of every band member’s heart since the inception of the group.

“Since we were producing it ourselves, we wanted to infuse as much of our shared personal history into the details as we could,” Grey shared in a statement ahead of the performance. “The underground train you hear before [new single] ‘Swan Dives’ is the Northern Line, which we would ride every day when we first started Dear Boy in London. The acoustic at the end of ‘Heaven Moves’ is from the very first demo recorded in Keith’s bedroom. ‘Unbecoming’ features a quote from the ’40s that goes: ‘The people of the state of California expect us to do our best…’ Something my Dad would say to me all of the time when I was a kid… There isn’t a moment on this album that doesn’t feature something important, unique or special to us. It’s the most personal record any of us could have imagined making.”

Engineers Clay Blair and Keith Cooper, mixer Tony Hoffer (Air, Phoenix, M83) with assistant mixer Cameron Lister, and mastering engineer Dave Cooley at Elysian Masters were the technical doulas supporting the band through the process.

Friday’s career-spanning live set included eight songs from the new album and older favorites, including their (non-EP) single from 2014, “Hesitation Waltz.”

Dear Boy next play the Belasco on Nov. 10, opening for British post-punk/New Romantic pioneers Psychedelic Furs.

Storefront Church, who released their debut album, “As We Pass,” last year, rocked a full-band rendition of the intricate orchestrations of frontman Lukas Frank, starting from a brooding croon to a dramatic, primal howl. The band will release a covers EP in early December.

Marcos Vaca Group opened the show with a sizzling set from his debut album, “Astonishment of Heart,” ending with a bombastic rendition of T. Rex’s “Buick Mackane.”

Setlist for Dear Boy: Evensong, (On My) Mind, Unbecoming, Semester, Limelight, Say When, Wet Clothes, Oh So Quiet, Your Brother’s Room, Forever Sometimes, Love Interest, Alluria, Swan Dives, Hesitation Waltz.