The boys were back in town. Playing before a sold out Troubadour audience of fans, family, friends and industry, Dirty Honey returned to their Southern California roots. Without an extensive touring history it would be many in the crowd’s first opportunity to see if they lived up to the hype. And what hype! Unless you’ve been hibernating for the winter, you’ll know that Dirty Honey has made music history by becoming the only unsigned band to hit #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart.
The verdict? They rocked, they rolled. They swayed, grooved and vibed. Most of all, Marc LaBelle (vocals), John Notto (guitar), Justin Smolian (bass) and Corey Coverstone (drums) had fun. In a music world where there is so much posturing, posing and pretentiousness, these four young guys are 100%, hands-down the real freakin’ deal.
Because they don’t have an extensive catalog of songs, the set list was brief for a headliner, roughly an hour. However, quantity and quality aren’t necessarily related. The guys poured every ounce of energy and sweat into that hour. They opened with Scars, followed by Break You and Fire Away. The stage at the Troubadour features two risers flanking both sides, and LaBelle, Notto and Smolian made the most of those, at times seeming more like gymnasts than musicians. There was rarely a time that the three were static. Smolian in particular breaks the traditional mold of the stoic bass player standing quietly in the background. The counterplay between him and Notto were more like two lead instrumentalists, which he deftly proved during his bass solo. Since Coverstone is anchored behind his drum kit, he didn’t get to share in the perpetual motion madness but was rewarded by a sweet drum solo midway through the set list.
The bond that has developed between Dirty Honey and their loyal fans was aptly illustrated during Heartbreaker.
Everyone has been to a concert where the lead vocalist exhorts the audience to sing along. He or she may do so by holding their vocal mic towards the crowd, or they may say something like “You know the words!” What happened during Heartbreaker is that LaBelle simply stopped singing. Didn’t say a word, didn’t hold out the mic. Nothing. And then something remarkable happened. The entire Troubadour repeatedly sang the chorus of “You’re just a heartbreaker, a heartbreaker, what you do to me?” Eleven words repeated by hundreds in unison that created a very special moment.
Another different sort of moment that illustrated just how much fun these guys are having is when LaBelle spoke about opening for Guns N’ Roses. During the course of his banter he said they were going to play a GNR cover. Notto then played a deliberately botched opening riff to Sweet Child O’ Mine, looking playfully at the audience with a sly grin and shrugging his shoulders as if stumped. (They did in fact play a cover tune later in the set, Aerosmith’s Last Child).
The final song in the main set was introduced by LaBelle as “the one that started it all,” which of course is that now-famous #1 single When I’m Gone. The encore was the next single off the EP, Rolling 7’s, which itself is quickly rising up the charts.
Dirty Honey already has an extensive tour schedule booked for early 2020 playing small to midsized venues. If you have the opportunity to see them, do so! It may be your last chance to be that close to the band before they inevitably graduate to the arenas.
CLICK HERE to view more pics from the show.