Photos by David Rubene
Reggae shows can help you release any stress you’ve been holding in. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new reggae group or a classic, the way they act on stage, what they say, and the music they play just makes you feel free. That’s what I needed last night and Dirty Heads just happened to be playing in Minneapolis… it was like the powers that be knew exactly what I needed.
I saw Dirty Heads last summer and was super impressed by their stage show. Last night was no different. Sure, their music isn’t what I typically listen to but watching Jared “Dirty J” Watson smile the whole time he was singing made me fall in love with these guys all over again. Their music has soul and feeling behind it. When watching them live, it doesn’t feel like they’re going through the motions. It feels like they mean what they say in between songs and they were saying all of the right words.
Dirty Heads opened up with some of their most radio friendly hits including “My Sweet Summer” which is, arguably, the single that made these guys rocket into stardom. Playing hit songs towards the beginning of a set is always a risky move. Some people may be tempted to leave after hearing “that one song” but something was different about last night. Even after a couple of the big hits were played, the crowd stayed where they were and were just as excited to hear the songs that didn’t make it to the radio.
Regardless of what song it was, the music of Dirty Heads is upbeat, interesting and unique. They somehow are able to mix rap, reggae, rock and even a little bit of an EDM feel all together to make something truly beautiful. When you hear a song by them, you know it’s them and, if you ask me, that really makes a band stand out. I don’t want to hear something that’s been done a million times over, I want to hear something fresh and that’s exactly what you get from Dirty Heads.
Where Dirty Heads mixed a bunch of genres together, New Beat Fund seemed to focus more on the classic reggae/rock sound. The Sublime influence was loud and clear even before the mandatory Sublime cover (they chose to cover “Caress Me Down”). Even with a more low-key sound than that of Dirty Heads, New Beat Fund kept the energy high and had the crowd in the palm of their hands.
RDGLDGRN is a band from the outskirts of DC that have a truly unique and great sound. They brought a heavy hip-hop influence to the show while still keeping with the reggae theme of the night. Their outfits matched the name as the guitarist had all red on, the vocalist had a green shirt on, and the bassist was wearing gold. Their set was, by far, one of the most energetic sets I’ve ever seen from an opening band. They didn’t seem to mind the fact that people were slowly trickling in during their set, they put their best foot forward and definitely impressed those of us that were smart enough to get there early.
At one point, Green (Marcus Parham, the vocalist) asked the crowd to split right down the middle. Green then hopped down into the aisle that formed and danced his way up and down the crowd all the while getting the crowd involved by having them chant “east side” or “west side” depending on what side they were on. A little cheesy? Sure! A lot of fun? Yes! Something that made me remember these guys even with my insane level of exhaustion? Definitely! You have to do what you have to do to get the crowd to notice you as an opening act. If it takes jumping into the crowd and getting a little chant going, so be it.