Date: Thursday, November 17th, 2011
Line up: The Dirty Heads, Wallpaper, The VeraGroove and Black Bottom Lighters
Location: The Marquee Theatre. Tempe, AZ
The scene was unreal, to say the least. After nearly six months, fans anxiously awaited the Dirty Heads’ return performance in Arizona, chanting “DH, DH…” and singing choruses to their favorite hits. That was the scene before the doors even opened. The crowd gathered along the barricade outside the Marquee Theatre, nearly extending over Tempe Town Lake into the Mill Avenue District. It was a sight that typically only exists in the imagination of national touring bands. However, this was a Dirty Heads show, so expect the unexpected! Once the doors opened, the jam-packed Marquee welcomed the Dirty Heads back to Tempe, AZ, their prolific neighborhood away from the beach.
Before the Dirty Heads unleashed their uplifting hip-hop grooves and reggae style on the attendees, two local bands warmed up the stage for the Huntington Beach natives. Glendale’s own Black Bottom Lighters had to be appreciative for the following that surrounds a Dirty Heads concert. By 9:00 pm, the venue was nearly full as The VeraGroove officially started the party with Katastro’s lead singer Andy Chaves joining the Phoenix based jam band on stage for “Everyday I Wake Up”. The hip-hop flavor was certainly tasty for the crowd, and the bass lines smacked the crowd, from front to back.
The lights inside the capacity-filled auditorium soon went black. The moment fans were waiting for since purchasing their tickets finally arrived. The Dirty Heads rolled onto the stage and instantly turned out an old classic, “Neighborhood”. It’s safe to say the fans in attendance always feel better when the Dirty Heads are in their neighborhood. From the intertwined lyrics of Jared Watson and Dustin Bushnell, David Foral’s swaying tonality on the bass, and even further, the rhythmic mastery of Matt Ochoa and Jon Olazabal holding down the beats and accompanying percussions, DH made fans feel like their sound never left their ears.
Whether you call it hip-hop, reggae, rock, or gentle acoustic music, the Dirty Heads call it their own and wear it with swagger. They made it known, once again, that they are the “Hip Hop Misfits” and elevated the “Wicked and Wylee” fan base to another level.
Early in the Dirty Heads’ set, they kept the tracks close to their roots, bringing back visions of laying it down at the close-quarters of the nearby Clubhouse Music Venue with “Ring The Alarm” and “Taint”. In time, it wasn’t long before new music was unleashed on their loyal fans. Gauging the crowd’s interest was easy. From new titles “Hipster” and “On My Way” it’s clear to see the fans are already feeling the Dirty Heads’ new music. As explained to me before the show by Duddy B and Matty O, “We really found the true Dirty Heads sound with our new music. We are testing out the new material on the road for fans to judge.” If a score had to be proposed for the new DH sound, ten out of ten would certainly fill the room.
From old to new, and back to some highly acclaimed hits, “Stand Tall” brought the crowd to full voice. The crowd sang it from the opening line to the final line of the chorus before the show, without the band. Thus, one can only imagine the reaction inside the venue…pure madness! Yet in superlative Dirty Heads style, the show only got better as the opening drum beats of “Check The Level” rang through the Marquee speakers. The chorus of “It’s in the audio, it’s in the air, it’s in the way you move, it’s everywhere…” was ear-piercing in the best possible way.
At this point in the show, it was time for a breather. Duddy B placed his electric guitar on the rack next to the stage, went behind the curtains and became a fan for one song, as Dirty J and the remaining four members of DH serenaded the crowd with a soulful cover of “Everlasting Light” by The Black Keys. In ideal showman fashion, Duddy B grabbed his guitar as he was still away from the crowds view picking away at the first few notes of “Paint It Black”, a reggae mash-up of the famous Rolling Stones tune, before slowly reappearing into the crowds eyesight. The minor details within their performance, which might go overlooked by some, are the elements that transformed the Dirty Heads into a flagship band for the community.
With night ticking on and the clock rapidly approaching midnight, “Insomnia” was a quintessential way to reign in the crowd for the final stretch of the Dirty Heads’ set. Before rolling into their next few songs, Jared addressed the crowd, simply stating, “It always seems like we hit Arizona on the end of our tour, and I know it takes us awhile to get here, but we have a couple more new songs we would love for you to hear!”
There was no hesitation from the crowd, only chants, cheers, and a few perfectly placed young ladies propped up on shoulders. After the confirmation from the fans, an uplifting new ditty titled “We Will Rise” echoed through the Tempe night, before sparking the interest of fans with “Burn By Myself”.
Before taking a brief break, DH took the crowd back to the Dirty Demo days with a timeless classic “Antelope” featuring “Jon Jon” absolutely ripping it up on percussions, moving right into “No Time For Ya’ll”.
At this point in the Dirty Heads set, and all throughout their tour, the boys have been inviting one lucky fan up to the stage to show off their best Dirty J impersonation on the infamous “Buenos Noches Rap”. Fifty to one odds from the crowd, and most figured the lucky girl would be overwhelmed by the pressure, but Chanel, as she was introduced, took off her sandals and got comfortable on the stage’s colorful and cozy floor rugs. Within the first ten seconds, Jared took a seat on Matt’s drum riser and sipped on his tea, as the crowd was stunned by the precision of her flow. Literally, nothing threw this girl off her rhythm. Congratulated with a few hugs from the band members after a beyond successful completion of the once left-out verse, the crowd went bonkers.
It was a genuine way to close out their set, but when the Dirty Heads are in Arizona, they give their fans even more. Duddy B returned to the stage for a comedic, solo performance titled “Crazy Bitches”, which had fans bursting out into laughter throughout the song’s entirety.
With the full band reemerging from the dressing room, it was time to tap into everyone’s most notable and favorite titles from Any Port In A Storm, “Shine”, then “Believe”, a song that takes you by the hand and walks you through the Dirty Heads’ musical inspirations, as well as their chart topping success, “Lay Me Down.”
The atmosphere inside the sold-out Marquee Theatre would be difficult to recreate on their next trip back to Arizona, but it was a surreal scene to be a part of. Jared displayed the band’s lighter side when he shared a story about their first ever sold out show outside of California, and it took place a few years ago right up the street at a venue far less glamorous. Nonetheless, as the years have gone by, and hit singles have reached national airwaves, it has never been about the venues or transportation on the road, their mission has always been to deliver their “Southern Cali flow” to their unwavering fans, one city at a time. And that will never change.
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