California rockers, The Dirty Heads, returned to Milwaukee to headline the 2013 Tour Odyssey at The Rave on March 1. A few steps into the venue revealed a fragrant haze that wafted over the crowd, suggesting that the weekend was about to commence in true Dirty Heads fashion. Shiny Toy Guns, Midi Matilda and Oh No Fiasco rounded out the bill.
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The Dirty Heads are currently touring on 2012 release, "Cabin by the Sea," their sophomore follow-up to the highly successful "Any Port in a Storm." Their latest album takes their Sublime-influenced style to greater levels with a sound that shows increased diversity after four years of relentless touring with the likes of Matisyahu, O.A.R. and 311.
Taking the stage at 10:30 p.m., The Dirty Heads began with their latest single, "Dance All Night." The uptempo song immediately highlighted vocalist Jared Watson's vocal abilities coupled with guitarist Dustin Bushnell's clean rap word flow. Their vocal pairing has established The Dirty Heads as one of the premier reggae rock acts. Add Bushnell's fretwork upon the heavy bass lines supplied by David Foral, combined with the duo percussion ensemble of Jon Olazabal and Matt Ochoa, and the result is an addictive musical hook that doesn't let go.
"Neighborhood" followed as they kicked out Beastie's-style old-school rap while the fans waved their arms with the beat. Given the strength of both albums, there were any number of songs that could show up on the setlist. They pushed "Cabin" but managed to hit the first album early with "Taint," the standout "Stand Tall" and funky "Hip Hop Misfits." Props to the road crew for a well-mixed and clean sounding set in a venue that is often criticized for its audio quality.
The summertime vibe inside The Rave sheltered fans from the frigid Wisconsin winter air. None so much as the Latin influenced "Disguise," that opens with a horn-section track and features Bushnell's technical, flamenco-style guitar play. Fans sang and grooved along to the relaxed "Cabin by the Sea," which induced an additional haze to fill the air.
A co-headline billing with Shiny Toy Guns kept the set short at about 75-minutes, though The Dirty Heads still were able to cruise though 17 songs. They closed out their set in just under an hour with the mellow "Believe" followed by "Spread Too Thin." During the latter, a fan threw a plastic cup with ice toward the stage that Foral caught in midair in time with a break in the verse. This caused a brief pause as the band laughed with his reflexes. Foral dropped the cup but Watson picked it up and poured a shot for the bassist before they continued.
They returned for a three-song encore that began with a heavy reggae dub before getting to fan favorite "Lay Me Down" that had the crowd singing and dancing. The uplifting and quirky "Check the Level" put the finishing touches on a solid show.
The Dirty Heads setlist:
Dance All Night
Cabin By the Sea
Hip Hop Misfits
We Will Rise
Best of Us
Spread Too Thin
Lay Me Down
Check the Level