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Dirtbombs - Babylon, Ottawa,15/4/2008

  by Andrew Carver

published: 20 / 4 / 2008

Dirtbombs - Babylon, Ottawa,15/4/2008


Andrew Carver is impressed by both godfathers of Detroit garage rock, the Dirtbombs, and also support act Kelley Stoltz, at a show at the Babylon in Ottawa

Ottawa has been good to the Dirtbombs; even on a Tuesday night with competition from hockey playoffs, they attracted a large crowd eager to rock out to the godfathers of Detroit’s once-hot garage rock scene. On this tour Mick Collins’ crew were accompanied by sleepy-voiced psych-pop San Francisco troubadour Kelley Stoltz. Stoltz has turned out a quintet of superb albums almost singlehanded. Given his tendency to record his work at home on 4 and 8-track machines, how well would it translate to the stage ? As it turned out, Stoltz and his backing quintet have worked up a sharp set. Kelley Stoltz, looking rumpled in a scarf and thinning hair, began his performance with what he dubbed a “jammy piano number” and finished it beating on his guitar strings with a maraca and while his band tore through a Warlocks style blowout. Although drummer James Kim (formerly of Court and Spark), guitarist Sean Coleman and bassist Kevin Ink have all contributed to Stoltz’s recorded work, it’s mostly been for only two or three songs per album and in Ink’s case some production work. Kim, Ink and Coleman’s tightly synchronized playing along with that of keyboardist Mark Nelson and multi-instrumentalist Jamin Barton (who played saxophone, xylophone and theremin), speaks of either frequent rehearsal or a lot of stage time together. The band also got along well on stage, breaking once to fool around with novelty plastic knives they had been given before going on - "They told us you were a tough audience", Stoltz joked. For the last number, Dirtbombs drummer Pat Pantano doubled James Kim on drums to propulsive effect. The audience, which was almost entirely there to see the headliner applauded enthusiastically but kept its distance. Stoltz and co are certainly a band fans of Gris Gris, Outrageous Cherry and the like should check out. As for the Dirtbombs, Collins seems to have settled on his cast of players; since 2005 he’s performed with drummers Pantano and Ben Blackwell, bassist Troy Gregory and Ko Shih on “fuzz.” The only perceptible difference was Shih’s switch from a Fender bass to a Jaguar, and even then she was buzzy as ever. After two years of steady gigging they’re more than capable of owning virtually any stage they step on, and they ripped through their songs with all the enthusiasm of first time players and a lot more precision. Some numbers, like the cover of ‘Underdog’ and ‘Candy Ass’ have become set stalwarts, ideally suited as they are to Collins raspy croon. For the rest of the lengthy set the band plucked tunes from their latest and back through their extensive catalogue. They occasionally consulted on what to play next. The band’s encore devolved into chaos, as they usually do, thanks to Benjamin Blackwell (once again, as they usually do). On previous shows Blackwell has ended the evening by swinging from the rafters, smashing his kit up with a few swings from his hi-hat and leapt on Collins for a piggyback ride. After a couple of songs Blackwell decided his snare would sound better worn on his head. His floor tom soon joined it, and he abandoned his post to wander into the audience, and then exhort them to some frenzied dancing with great success (an attempt to convince them that some comely identical twins in the front row were his sisters didn’t work as well). Mick Collins meanwhile had played his guitar behind his head before jamming it into Babylon’s low ceiling. Then he went over to play Pat Pantano’s drums while Pantano attempted to conduct the gathering chaos. Ko had jumped onto Blackwell’s kick drum, Gregory was reclining on the stage left PA stack. Their concluding number was a little short on structure, but did leave the audience satisfied, and the stage strewn with bits and pieces of gear.

Picture Gallery:-
Dirtbombs - Babylon, Ottawa,15/4/2008

Dirtbombs - Babylon, Ottawa,15/4/2008

Dirtbombs - Babylon, Ottawa,15/4/2008

Dirtbombs - Babylon, Ottawa,15/4/2008

Dirtbombs - Babylon, Ottawa,15/4/2008

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Interview (2003)
Dirtbombs - Interview
The Dirtbombs have recorded more records and played more shows than any of versatile Detroit guitarist Mick Collins’ many other groups. Drummer Ben Blackwell chats about their twin bass, twin drum line-up and new album "Dangerous Magical Noise'

live reviews

93 Feet East, London, 20/6/2005
Dirtbombs - 93 Feet East, London, 20/6/2005
The Dirtbombs recently played 93 Feet East as the London date on a world tour. With two bassists and two drummers, Dominic Simpson enjoys some over-the-top rock 'n' roll
Dominion Tavern, Ottawa, 13/11/2003

digital downloads


Party Store (2011)
Fabulous covers album from acclaimed Detroit garage rockers, the Dirtbombs, who have taken 80's and 90's techno classics from their home city and reinjected them with a new lease of life
We Have You Surrounded (2008)
Dangerous Magical Noise (2003)

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