L.A.-based phenom, Dirty Honey, is one of rock’s hottest and fastest rising new bands. Having formed in 2017, the band is exploding at a blistering pace and is the first unsigned band to ever top Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Songs Chart. They have already opened for the likes of Alter Bridge, Guns N’ Roses, Skillet, Slash and The Who. Dirty Honey began their headlining tour on November 4th in Phoenix, AZ. There would be no scorching lights and no large production, only the raw and real intensity of the band connecting with their audience on a different level. Surrounded by fringe, wide-brimmed hats and classic band tees it feels like a different era. The venue is crowded with a wide range of people, culture and ages. You can hear fans reminiscing on what the venue and rock scene used to be and can see the excitement of young eyes as they take everything in. In contrast to the recent supersized events Dirty Honey have played, the first night of tour is an intimate affair for the fans.
The evening’s opener, The Deadbeat Cousins, kick off with their song Come On Now. Their easy-flowing sound brings you back to the basics of blues and rock n’ roll, catching the attention of the crowd and bringing the stragglers from the bar to the stage. Matt Shaker’s voice soothes and surprises as the songs vary in pace and sound. It is apparent that the crowd feeds off of the solid sound from Blair Furmanski on drums and the energy of Jaren Soelberg on guitar. Soelberg is not shy to make use of the small area he has to work with. Sam Meyers, who is probably the least boisterous of the front stagers makes up for it in his punchy blues sound on bass. They end their set on a high vibe with their hit song Slow Down, from their debut album Get By.
In between the opener and the headliner you have Wyves, who kicks up the energy a notch. The four-piece takes the stage dressed head to toe in the timeless style of the 70’s, matching their sound. With an amp failing before the set, vocalist Corey Gloden sets down his guitar and picks up the opportunity to freely sashay across the stage and into the crowd. Gloden consistently makes sure that everyone is engaged in the show with his enthusiasm and comic banter. Guitarist Nick Sterling plays off of Gloden’s vibrant energy and contributes a large portion of the backing vocals. Evan Knisely, leopard pants and all, mans the drums with a constant smile that matches the rest of the crowd. Brenden McBride on bass bares his bad attitude with flare as he moves across the stage to interact with Sterling during an impressive guitar solo. And with the sheer mention of Dirty Honey at the end of the set, the crowd goes wild and grows anxious for the headliner to begin.
There is a moment of pure bliss as the lights fall and the members appear from side stage. First to take the stage is Corey Coverstone (drummer), followed by Justin Smolian (bass), John Notto (guitar) and vocalist Marc LaBelle. As the sound of Scars rises over the room, there is an elevated energy level that only grows from Notto’s first riff. The familiar sound of classic rock takes over and feels like home. There is no easing into their set with Smolian jumping onto the speakers center stage and whipping his hair with the sound of his bass. If you were looking to hear their exact album you are pleasantly disappointed, because it is clear by the end of the first song that the band has left room for natural improvisation. As Break You and Fire Away play through, you can hear a new expression in the live version of the songs. Musically, they have left enough room to allow each member to bring their own personality and undeniable talent to the stage. In between songs each member has the opportunity to freely showcase their instrumental role in the band. It starts with Coverstone breaking away from the normal patterns and working his entire kit. Moving on to Smolian he effortlessly displays how he has become the backbone of the Dirty Honey sound. As Notto begins his free solo you can feel the crowd’s excitement against the tight and robust sound echoing from the guitar. LaBelle is not left out, as every song showcases how his diverse vocal range brings you back to the sexy and soulful sound of classic rock n’ roll. Heartbreaker gets the crowd moving a little faster and singing a little louder, while their song Down The Road lets the band pull back and tune in to the bluesy rock style that urges you to feel the lyrics a little deeper. The band even plays a brand new song for the very first time. You can feel the grateful hearts of the fans as the song is discovered.
The band allows the concertgoers to decide whether the next song will be a cover from Aerosmith or Led Zeppelin. The crowd cheers back and forth as LaBelle rubs his fingers across his chin and displays a grand smile. As the notorious sound of Last Child takes over, the band pays patronage to the rock greats that helped inspire their music. One of the high points of the evening is when the memorable intro resonates throughout the venue and the screams of the crowd match the powerful sound of When I’m Gone. That leads into their final song of the setlist, Rolling 7’s. This song captures the essence of the seductive rock culture that we know and love. As the band leaves the stage the audience begs for an encore. When LaBelle reappears he yells “they have to hear you” (referring to his band) and the crowd makes sure that they do. “Zeppelin” you hear from the crowd as the members take their spot. Immigrant Song leaves the crowd with their encore and their own unique experience that doesn’t stop at the final song.
Dirty Honey is becoming known for their undying loyalty to their fans and it is apparent as the band spends the rest of the evening taking the time to sign merchandise, take photos and have real conversation with the people who make their music mean something more. Self-titled “biggest Dirty Honey fans” Kiersten Murphy and Justin Mcinnis are among that crowd in the venue. This will be their fifth show this year. Flying from Maine to see the band in Las Vegas the weekend before, they can’t say enough how genuine the band is. Mcinnis ends the evening with the statement “They’re bringing rock back.”
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