Dirty Heads brings unique sound to The Orange Peel

By Tina Langford – clangfor@unca.edu – Staff Writer | Nov. 19, 2014 |

Dirty Heads melodically overtook The Orange Peel last Wednesday with their hip-hop infused, ska-punk style songs.

Performing hit classics from their albums past and new airs from their album Sound of Change released earlier this year, the performers kept the audience intrigued with their track lineup and mesmerizing stage effects.

A crowd full of red-eyed and beer-thirsty hippies filled the venue’s floor, eagerly awaiting Dirty Heads after an outstanding opening performance from Rome, their guest star and front man of Sublime.

Lead vocalist Jared “Dirty J” Watson and vocalist/guitarist Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell finally appeared, with their musicians quickly following, and the crowd cheered with excitement and admiration until the first tapping of the drumstick sounded.

Once the concert began, it was obvious that not only were energy levels high, but the performers were eager to impress.

Bushnell slightly but stiffly hunched his shoulders through nearly half of the show, making it more apparent the audiences enthusiasm was overwhelming, but not hindering their performance in the slightest.

Usually having a style more comparable with Sublime, and more of a light-rock and reggae feel, Watson and Bushnell maintained a more prevalent hip-hop influence throughout the show. “Burn Slow,” produced by Rome and featuring rapper Tech N9ne on the album, is one of the group’s most hip-hop styled songs, and it was by far one of the crowd’s favorites that night as arms were highest and shouts were loudest during this piece.

With Watson’s strong lyrical ability and fluid rap style, beats dropping hard and periodically, and always at the perfect moment, it wasn’t long before the Peel’s hollow-like floors were jumping with the audience.

Flashes of smiling and singing faces filled the space as blue and purple lights brought the music to life. With obviously fake smoke fogging the view of the stage, the smell of marijuana somehow permeated the air.

With the enormous, audience-sized ceiling fan swirling overhead, along with the cesspool of body heat and alcohol blankets, the reggae infusions of the group gave a sense of island bliss and relaxation.

“I had a great time dancing and singing along to the lyrics,” said Anna Lee Warasila, a student at the University of North Carolina at Asheville and avid fan of the group.

“It’s not often you find a group that sounds the same in person as they do on track,” Warasila said. “But they were great to see live.”

The most impactful moment of the show was when their guest performer, Rome, hopped on stage for the performance of the group’s most popular song yet, “Lay Me Down.” As the audience screamed with excitement, Dirty J stood in awe, covering his smile with the inside of his elbow, shyly containing his excitement from the song’s success and how overjoyed and involved the crowd seemed at that moment.

Watson and Bushnell founded Dirty Heads out of Huntington Beach, Calif., in the late ‘90s when they were in college.

Ending with their latest single “Medusa,” Dirty Heads left The Orange Peel with a bang, literally. This track is filled with hard-hitting beats and a commanding aura. With a powerful tempo and strong hip-hop influence, they left an outstanding impression on what is to come from the group.

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