I went along. Here’s how it was:
The Dirty Nil, Winter Passing & Weatherstate @ Boston Music Room, London
Friday, 28 September 2019
Guitars, sequin, sparkles and a whole lot of men.
For those who don’t care enough to look them up, the Dirty Nil are a three piece ‘rock’n’roll’ band from Ontario, Canada. They won a Juno last year (2017) which I presume is the Canadian equivalent to America’s loftiest honour: the MTV Award. I think the recognition was for their exceptional cover of B. A. Johnston’s ‘My Heart is Broken like an Old Nintendo’.
Why did I go? I don’t know.
To the gig:
The venue was at half capacity, awash with Less than Jake t-shirts, chequered sweatbands and fringes that weren’t even cool when the Black Parade was playing on Kerrang!. Very male.
Weatherstate were the first support. They put in a good performance but somehow managed to come across as a more English looking but American sounding version of Feeder. I’m sure they’ve tried covering Buck Rogers by replacing all references to Jaguars with Corvettes. Cliche choruses ranging from ‘Smell the Coffee’ and ‘Lately you’ve been lying low’.
Second support The Winter Passing were folky and correspondingly lacklustre. Tried and failed at getting the crowd going. Might have worked in a different context, but wasn’t right for the night. Sadly PA system received more applause when Code Orange’s, Bleeding the blur came on.
The Dirty Nil announced their arrival with a type of (I don’t say certain) style. Front man, Luke Bentham was attired in a racy black cowboy shirt peppered with sequins and set off with a snarl. Real dandy.
The band were competent and played well to the crowd. For a three-piece in a small venue the show was surprisingly bombastic, verging on crazy theatrical. Exactly what displays of ‘rock’n’roll’ should be.
Distilled: it was eighty percent power chords, fifteen percent self-aware curls of the upper lip with a remaining five percent ‘feeling of loss at the worryingly social-misfit-esque vibe of the crowd’.
They delivered an impressively meaty set focused on their latest LP Master Volume – so more pop punk than the abrasive outbursts of Higher Power, but the crowd were into it. Managed to keep up momentum despite the intensity of the first forty minutes.
Highlights included a high octane delivery of Bathed in light, a return to 2011’s Fuckin’ up young, a not so harrowing Evil side and a good closer with Bury me at the rodeo.
The Dirty Nil play a certain type of rock music. In this context rock and pomp managed to go comfortably hand-in-hand without inspiring winces. But it’s a fine line. Whether you like their current direction or not there’s no doubt that they play well and deliver more than their records ever could live.
Set list: That’s what heaven feels like, Bathed in light, Pain of infinity, Cinnamon, No weaknesses, Zombie eyed, Always high, Fuckin’ up young, Auf weidersehen, Smoking is magic, Friends in sky, I don’t want that phone call, Know your rodent, Big Star’s – September Gurls, Wrestle yü to Hüsker Dü, Evil side, Metallica’s – Hit the lights and Bury me at the rodeo