by Bryan Holland
It was a chilly October night in Huntington and the Dirty Heads and their openers brought the heat. If you’ve never heard of the Dirty Heads, you’re definitely missing out. This is a band that mixes the happy vibes and upstroke rhythm of reggae with the clever verbiage and honesty in the lyrics and beats of a hip hop group. They bring smiles and sing-a-alongs with every show, heads bobbing while a moving spectrum of assorted fans dance and sing their hearts out. Their music is not for everyone, but you won’t find anyone in the crowd not moving at least a little bit. The Paramount is the perfect venue for these types of groups. Just as their song “Cabin by the Sea” says, “when the sun goes down, we can start a fire to sing around”.
The opening act started the night very upbeat with high energy reggae and hip-hop in the vein of Dirty Heads but didn’t take long to make a statement themselves. Hailing from Washington, D.C., REDGLDGRN did an original take on the classic Bob Marley song “3 Little Birds” and asked everyone to light it up, of course meaning lighters and phones in the air, lighting up the balcony fans as well as the whole floor while everyone sang the words we were born to know. “Every little thing is gonna be alright”. And like that, everything was. Not too long after, they split the whole crowd in two, doing an east coast vs west coast battle. It was Biggie and Tupac songs head to head in downtown Huntington, their spirit alive and well.
The next group was the New Beat Fund. They had a very different style to their music compared to the other bands. More of a rock outfit with punk rock and reggae layers, they brought a lot of energy and had a front man reminiscent of Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day, in demeanor, look, and voice quality. Some songs of theirs had definite recognition potential, as if I had already known a few from another time. They played an excellent cover of “Caress Me Down” by Sublime and had the crowd ready and roaring for the Dirty Heads.
Intermission had been going for twenty or so minutes when the lights dropped. People ran from all corners to be closer to the sound as the electronic riff to “Burn Slow” began, one of the huge hits from two albums ago. Dirty J and Duddy B, as their lead singers go by, came out for the hip hop heavy song with their custom California inspired words.
Next up was “My Sweet Summer”, lyrics speaking to anyone who has been played by the opposite sex. Relating a season being over to the loss of someone in a poetic dance vibe is artistic in the way of a great pun, making you laugh and cry, all the while dancing to the truth it speaks. Chanting “My sweet summer is gone” in October. If you were going through a breakup from summer romance, this one hit you hard. Well played, gentlemen.
“Dance All Night” was an obvious party starter, letting everyone know the hits wouldn’t stop coming. From here on out they delved back and forth, cutting waves like the crowd was their surf, through old songs, new jams, b-sides and back. Prior to this show, I was a huge fan of their b-side acoustic jams they had done over the years. Both of my favorites, “Garland” and “Sloths Revenge” were played. Sloths Revenge relies on references that I personally 100% relate to. “Like Goonies, never say die” and mentioning Marty McFly in one song is a direct line to my nostalgia. References in their songs are potentially the best lyrical mic-drop they do. In one song, you’ll laugh and nod a multitude of times, because you know exactly what he was saying through the façade of clever verbiage and quick spits.
They brought the house down at the end with the songs that got them popular, most notably “Spread Too Thin” right into “Lay Me Down”. With this band, you can be completely sucked in by the great rhythm section, the creative word play, the balance of the whole picture, or if you’re just there to party. They make you dance all night. They spread you thin. They burn slow. They live in a cabin by the sea. These are the sounds of change. Then they lay you down. My sweet summer isn’t over quite yet.