Woodstock Mafia – Rebel Dreams (2013)

There is already a buzz around these guys that lets you know they have established a strong opening following. A band that can hold themselves from the start can build the necessary defences early on and become impenetrable in future years. They really throw themselves into their time and music, and it dang well pays off. ‘Rebel Dreams’ is a great piece of alt-rock, full of stabby guitar riffs and clever drumming. The members know how to hold their own musically and technically, taking both performer and producer roles in the making of their records (as well as managerial, visual, financial etc roles). They are more than a band, they are a business.

Woodstock Mafia consists of Joe Theron on vocals, Nick van Rensburg on guitar, Ryan Matthews on bass and Owen Ingarfield on drums. Their sound can be compared to a form of post-grunge or alternative rock; the band themselves don’t know how to label their sound. It is definitely for fans of Placebo, Biffy Clyro, etc. and has moments of punk and almost progressive prowess. As mentioned before, they produce and distribute their songs themselves through their own record label, which is a truly refreshing and clever operating system. By doing this, the band can keep hold of their publishing and artistic vision without being compromised by external industry leeches. The single ‘Rebel Dreams’ is the second release from their as-yet unnamed debut album, available for pre-order through their website. Their work can currently be found on SoundCloud, including the tracks from their first EP and the first single from the album, ‘Electric Light’.

A tentative guitar lick becomes an epic opening on the track as a low slung power chord punches the track into motion, with Theron gently delivering Rush-like lyrics aided by some sweet harmonies. Stabbing guitar riffs appear and the track is underway, a ska-like groove with more tender vocals and some great drumming from Ingarfield. These guys can wield their respective instruments with a sharp sense of quality and enjoyment, the track never gets stale or loses its direction. The pre-chorus allows for more of the higher vocals accompanied by some nice harmonies, which continue into the sing-loudly-along chorus. A fast-paced bridge plays with a fun little guitar solo, allowing for the audience to dance around before resting in the finale of the piece. A breakdown with distant vocals and a cool tremolo guitar eventually pick up with a crescendo of drum rattles and feedback with a final yell jumping into the end chorus. If you aren’t joining in with the lyrics by now, you’ve probably stopped the track already. One more shriek from Theron signals the abrupt ending of the record, and you’re left with a sense of completion and adulation.

The album is going to be good, it can’t be denied. The level of musicianship and professional integrity on offer from this single signals something much needed in this state of over-polished haircuts-with-guitars ‘rock’ music. An incendiary opener from these smart chaps, and definitely something to look out for in the future. Give them your attention, they deserve it.


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