We came to the 21st Annual KROQ Acoustic Christmas in search of bad-ass bands, booze, and babes in black. We tend to forget that the original purpose of the show is for our beautiful, Southern California community of die-hard rock fans to light up the Christmas tree and relax.
Well, there were plenty of [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Dirty Heads[/lastfm] audience members lighting up a little “tree” and forgetting the worries of their year. If you know what we mean.
Ska-reggae rock band and Orange County natives, The Dirty Heads, took the stage with vocalist Jared Watson and vocalist/guitarist Duddy Bushnell wearing their “hoodies up like a security blanket.” The band broke into their infectiously, groovy tune “Neighborhood,” while the crowd got progressively drunker, taking swigs of long yards of beer; skanking and grinding their bodies into random strangers.
Percussionist Jon Olazabal, drummer Matt Ochoa, and bassist David Foral had barely broken through their wall of rhythm before the audience members wanted to explicitly break off a piece of the hot, sweaty seething masses around them.
There is something inherently, well, dirty about the Dirty Heads. Their songs like “Stand Tall” feel like a marijuana-fueled, libidinous beachside bonfires, where the wind is just the right amount of chill to make that “girl next door” cuddle voraciously with you.
Even when they broke into Rolling Stones cover, “Paint It Black,” they made it more raunchy than weirdly intense. The crowd responded accordingly, clapping along with prompting, while a young boy next to me screamed, “I love you Dirty Heads!”
There is no doubt that Dirty Heads has many California based influences, including other reggae-inspired acts like Sublime. In their fourth song, “Believe,” encapsulates everything purely-Cali about the band with lyrics like “I’m in California now/so I know that I’m home” and lyrical nods to Sublime with “lovin’ is what you got.”
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When special guest Rome Ramirez came out to sing “Lay Me Down” (also donning the ubiquitous hoodie), it felt like the whole audience was one of many rambunctious backyard parties we all may have been partial to in our lives as Angelenos.
The Dirty Heads last song was “Check The Level,” a song rife with skilled, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Eminem[/lastfm]-level biting flow and wild ethnic congo drumming. Watson and Bushnell ripped through their verses with sparkling style, showcasing their fluid street-smart literacy over their previous party-centric pieces.
As we strove the analyze their words in our typical music journalist fashion, Dirty Heads gave us a message that made us drop our pen and sit and purely sit and absorb the music.
“So feel the audio and let it go.”