Normally, the notion of white guys attempting reggae music (especially with long hair), is worth a laugh or two. But the Dirty Heads have successfully placed themselves in the authenticity zone with their blend of reggae, hip-hop and ska-punk flavors. Beginning a two-night stint at the Summit Music Hall on Saturday, the Dirty Heads were welcomed back to Denver and emitted that sweet, false feeling of summer into the jam-packed venue.
Jared Watson (lead vocals) and Dustin “Duddy” Bushnell’s (vocals, guitar) long hair make them unmistakable characters, and with percussionist Jon Olazabal, drummer Matt Ochoa and bassist David Floral, their sound is made completely their own. “Neighborhood,” started off the show with a tease of psychedelic guitar and percussion while the room went crazy. Watson took a minute before starting his vocals and smiled as his eyes washed over the enthusiastic crowd.
The blend of reggae and hip-hop songs ebbed and flowed, making the show a cohesive work. The ever-popular “Stand Tall” wove into more reggae with “Everything I’m Looking For,” and then into a rock/hip-hop vibe with “Check the Level.” Watson’s fast-spitting lyrics kept the energy flowing with the steady beat of Bushnell’s guitar. Watson’s skills were challenged, however, when they brought up a member of the audience to try their hand at the “Buenos Noches Rap.” The tall, skinny guy spat every lyric in rhythm as the crowd bobbed along with him and Watson stood back, visibly impressed.
The show closed with an encore of “Shine,” “Headphones” and the ever-loving, feel good favorite, “Lay Me Down.” You could say that at the end of the night, the Dirty Heads cleaned house.
Steve Cohen is a Denver photographer and new contributor to Reverb.