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  • Dave and The Dirty Humans - Gig Review: Dave and the Dirty Humans @ Fringe Bar, Wellington - 13/01/2024

Dave and The Dirty Humans - Gig Review: Dave and the Dirty Humans @ Fringe Bar, Wellington - 13/01/2024

15 Jan 2024 // A review by Nicholas Clark
Dave and The Dirty Humans are not a band that fades in memory next to the many other current Wellington bands the capital scene appears to be teeming with. Not only is the name a mouthful, but their live shows are memorable, and their songs seem familiar by drawing heavily from the near past (read, the 90’s and 2000’s). The band has a friendly stage presence, joking amongst themselves and the audience they interact with by using all four singing members to address the growing crowds they perform in front of.

At their second single release, I find myself at Wellington’s Fringe bar, a venue I’ve only ever seen comedy performed at. By splitting the multilayered bar into a live music venue and just a table filled area for after work customers, the bar appeared nearly filled to capacity by the time I arrived, but those in the general bar were missing out. The stage was decorated with the classic, glittery faux curtains usually associated with stand-up comedy, and although the stage was small, it made for an intimate and colourful setting.

The night began with Daisy Grae, a funky little band I’ve seen perform at Lovelands and which are a reminder that Dave and The Dirty Humans share the stage with a wide range of genres outside of heavy rock, (so long as the music is good). Daisy Grae was upbeat, fast and catchy. The drummer employed disco beats and the music reminded me of 2000’s bands such as Franz Ferdinand, Interpol and The Killers. Great energy to start the night. Next up, Cruelly took to the stage and played a little heavier and slower in general, with some cool nods to dreamy grunge and shoegaze. Beautiful heartfelt singing, getting a little rawer and grunty as the set continued.

Finally, the main act appeared, and the room filled with a fresh slew of people eager to celebrate the new single, Rock Bottom. The band began with Sad Kid Skatepark, an Alice in Chains sounding number with a fantastic pre-chorus made of repeated syncopated beats that initially herald a thick chorus of dual singing, and then throws the audience unexpectedly the second time it plays. From this song onwards, the crowd knew they were in for a special night; the singing was nice and clear, and the instruments balanced with the monster drumming. I would add that although the stage looked great, there was a little feedback between songs and the guitar solos were a little lost in the mix unfortunately. However, the energy of the band made up for this small issue, not only through their shared leadership in terms of addressing the crowd, but also having a great sense of humour. Before the show the band was awarding pieces of fruit to early bird ticket holders and, as per tradition now, they invite the audience to contribute their left shoes for crowd-favourite, Left Shoe.

The band played through a set filled with songs that shared vocal duties and shifted from heavy rock influences, Josh Homme approved ‘desert session’ rock n’ roll, heavy metal and grunge. Rainforest even has a nod to progressive rock complete with tempo and mood changes from blissed out ambience to loud chants. But the crowd was there to hear two songs in particular; their last single Fora which features an interesting song structure not unlike a hard-shelled chocolate caramel, and of course Rock Bottom. Before starting Fora, the band displayed their self-depreciating wit by honestly stating the song had garnered “over one hundred plays on Spotify” which hinted at the various reasons for the success of the band – their honesty and relatable humour.

Rock Bottom is a classic example of a D.A.T.D.H. song. The opening riff features a near shuffle beat that is catchy and a little jazzy. It’s heavy, but also tasty and playful – the kind of riff a whole song could be based on, but this band always wants to do more than get you into a groove: they want to get you back into it after taking you somewhere else. The drums are hard hitting but have the high-hat lift of a disco beat. On the recorded single, the vocals enter with a reverse reverb and take us into the first contemplative verse, “I’ve been locked out of my head for days, Paralysed, I’ve got time to waste.”

The chorus features a harmonized vocal with the haiku-like words “I’m feeling low let's go get high, Rock Bottom never looked so nice” which, I suppose, is about finding the sweet spots of depression unless the whole song is ironic or tongue-in-cheek. It’s a band where this distinction is nearly impossible to determine, and their best moments arrive in this grey area of passionate genuineness and ‘just kidding’ Kiwi influenced witticism. The second verse employs more vocal effects to the point of the lyrics getting a little lost, but when the chorus returns, complete with lush 1970’s style guitar tones and that harmonized singing, the listener is rewarded for waiting for it. The song features an interesting guitar solo that has a swirling phaser sound, and then the chorus returns one last time, ending on a deep spoken word about it never looking so nice. Oh yes, there’s also an absolute blistering drum fill towards the end that is shocking to behold.

It’s hard to disagree with the sentiment of the chorus if such an awesome song as this can be written from the perspective of someone going through a rough time. Something that New Zealanders should perhaps take heed of, considering our depression and suicide statistics, particularly among young men.

Once the band had completed their set, the crowd bayed for one more. The band happily agreed by playing the opening track from the breakthrough album for the genre most closely aligned with Dave and The Dirty Humans, Songs for The Deaf by Queens of The Stone Age. The song, You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire is the kind of song most bands might begin a night with, but by concluding with it, the night seemed to only just be starting. This could also be said for the career of these young musicians.

Photo Credit: Jecht Taylor / Jechtography



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