The Dirtbombs…Detroit’s Finest rock San Diego
Look…I love loud music as much as the next guy. But when I pay money to go see a band, it would be nice if I could at least hear the lead singer somewhere in all the noise.
That was the case last night in San Diego at a performance venue called “4th & B”, when me and some of my friends went to see 3 band bill. The night led off with local radio station 94.9 firing off a gritty set with appearances by lead singers of Louis XIV and The Dirtbombs. With morning drive-guy Tommy Hough leading the way on guitar, the band put together a surprisingly good set!
The Detroit band “The Dirtbombs” took the stage next. Leading off with 2 drummers, lead singer Mick Collins ripped through songs from their latest album, “We Have You Surrounded”, showcased by the hammering “Wreck My Flow”. Stalking the stage in sunglasses and a t-shirt that stated “You Are Being Watched”, Collins is a fun frontman to watch. And his prowess on guitar was one of the highlights of the evening. Well…that and the 2 drummers finishing the set while the other band members cleared all of their equipment off the stage. Good stuff!
Up next was local band “Delta Spirit”. Although they put together a tight set, following The Dirtbombs didn’t really fit them. The Dirtbombs are a loud rock band. Delta Spirit are a more “thoughtful lyrics” band. Although they didn’t sound bad, I couldn’t get into the whine and grind lyrics. I am assuming their set was mostly from their new album “Ode To Sunshine”, which ITunes lists their sound as a “bluesy folk”. I call it kinda boring. Whatever you call it, there wasn’t anything about this band that really stood out to me.
Finally the headliners hit the stage at a little after 11:30 San Diego time (2:30 MY time). After a long delay to get to the stage, when they finally hit, I was anxious to hear what these alternative veterans could bring to the stage. And it turns out, all they could offer was distortion. Sporting an ensemble of musicians, which includes a sax player, it LOOKED like TV On The Radio knew what they were doing. I mean, lead singer Kyp Malone paced the stage with authority, waving his arms and leading the way. Unfortunately, the sound was so bad that you couldn’t hear any of it…and I was standing back by the soundboard! How any band could have such a poor mix is beyond me. But with the poor audio and the late hour (I am gonna be 40 next month! I’m getting too old for this stuff…), me and my group decided it was time to go. Why stay and listen to loud screeching?
Which begs the question…how does that happen? How does a band have such a poor mix? Is it the audio tech? Is it the venue? Who is responsible? Honestly, the mix for Delta Spirit was loud but I could at least hear the lead singer. And with The Dirtbombs, a few songs were distorted, but nothing like the headliner. Small venues like 4th & B or Bogart’s in Cincinnati are at a disadvantage because of the acoustics and size of the building. So why crank it up to 11 when you could bring it down a notch and let the musicianship lead the way?
Either way, I was disappointed that I couldn’t get into TV On The Radio. With their new album “Dear Science” tearing up alternative college radio, I bet they are a really great band normally. But last night, they kinda sounded like feedback. Not necessarily ther fault, but someone should be canning somebody for the amateurish mix they put together last night. For my dollar, The Dirtbombs were worth the price of admission. If you get a chance, go check these guys out!