Dreams So Real greeted a relaxed yet happy crowd on Sunday night as they closed out AthFest 2019 with age jokes, pop jams and old school rock ‘n’ roll.
With paint scratches showing on the well-worn electric guitars, the band played hit song “California” and got the audience bobbing their heads and tapping their feet, if not singing along.
At one point, DSR paused between songs to tune its guitars and prepare to play in a different key. During the break, several band members joked with the audience.
“It’s only been nine, seven, eight years since we played, so we’re doing our best [we] can at our age,” lead vocalist and guitarist Barry Marler said.
“I actually took a few guitar lessons last week,” bassist Bo Hembree added, unable to contain a laugh.
Its time away from the stage did not show one bit — DSR effortlessly performed old hits to a fan-filled audience. Whether they knew every word or were experiencing the ’80s rock band for the first time, everyone in the crowd seemed to enjoy the last performance of the weekend.
Towards the end of the show, Marler told the audience that the next song in the set was an “obscure” one and that “only true fans will know it.”
That was a lie — DSR proceeded to play “Rough Night in Jericho,” a popular rock song from 1988 that fans had been demanding from the band throughout the entire show. A loud cheer erupted from the audience after the first chord progression was played and fans jumped up and down as they sang along to the old hit.
The band walked offstage after jamming out to “Jericho,” but they did not say goodbye. A few seconds and a few cheers from the crowd later, DSR walked back onstage to perform an encore.
“If you were gonna hear one more song, what would it be?” Marler asked the audience. They responded mostly with “Melody!” but a few others asked for “History.”
“It’s gotta be one that we actually remember,” he joked.
Much to the audience’s satisfaction, DSR jammed out to “Melody” to officially end both the night and the weekend. Fans were easily distinguishable from mere attendees as they bounced around and loudly cheered, separating themselves from the entertained yet reserved head bobbers and toe tappers.
Tamara Michaux has been listening to DSR since she was in college at the University of Georgia.
“They’re one of my favorite bands, ever,” Michaux said.
Following DSR’s upbeat and nostalgic rock ‘n’ roll performance in its hometown, festival-goers slowly meandered away from the Mainstage as artists and vendors finished packing up their tents under a cotton candy sky.
Until next year.