Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Dirty Heads rock Northampton with summery, reggae-rock tunes


Hundreds of fans lined the streets outside the Pearl Street Ballroom last Sunday night, eagerly awaiting a performance from the California reggae-rock-rap group, Dirty Heads.

Because of the venue’s small size, Pearl Street was packed. Every member of the audience teemed closely together, pressed up toward the stage. The crowd consisted mainly of college-aged kids, and a few straggler “adults.”

Two opening acts preceded Dirty Heads, RDGLDGRN and New Beat Fund.

RDGLDGRN started out the show with a surprising amount of energy. Their hip-hop and reggae style, similar to Dirty Heads, warmed up the crowd. The band performed a handful of songs; mostly the group’s own, with a few covers thrown in.

Pierre Desrosiers, the band’s lead singer, riled up the crowd by jumping off the stage and dancing with the fans. For a band whose name has not yet caught on, RDGLDGRN certainly proved itself to the Pearl Street crowd with an enlivening performance.

After a short delay due to technical issues, New Beat Fund took the stage. The band sported 90s grunge looks, with each member showing off a different hair color.

Though New Beat Fund was just as energetic as RDGLDGRN, the band proved to be not quite as popular among the crowd. New Beat Fund, unlike the more carefree RDGLDGRN, seemed preoccupied with its own presence on stage, unable to translate its energy to the crowd.

It wasn’t until 10 p.m., nearly two hours after the first act, that Dirty Heads finally took the stage. Emerging from a cloud of smoke, Dirty Heads opened with their popular hit “Burn Slow.” They were greeted with the overwhelmingly warm welcome of a cheering, screaming crowd that gave off off an incredible amount of energy.

In total, Dirty Heads managed to play 21 songs. Live, Dirty Heads gave off calm and confident vibes, making their material sound even better than it does on record.

Throughout the concert, the group rolled from hit to hit, including career highlights like “My Sweet Summer,” “Franco Eyed,” “Red Lights” and “Lay Me Down.” The crowd did not hesitate in screaming the lyrics back to the band.

Dustin “Duddy B” Bushnell and Jared “Dirty J” Watson led the band on vocals, singing and rapping lyrics with natural chemistry. Dirty Heads have been a band for over 20 years, and the rapport between the members was evident, giving off an aura of friendship and collaboration onstage.

The band’s act did not seem over-rehearsed, and it even seemed as though they were sometimes choosing parts of their setlist on the fly.

The band’s other three members played a key role in the success of the performance as well. Watching Shawn Hagood enthusiastically play the keyboards and belt out backing vocals gave off positive energy that easily translated to the crowd. Overall, Dirty Heads just seemed sincerely happy to be performing on stage.

They ended their encore with their most recent hit “That’s All I Need,” which only managed to leave the crowd wanting more.

Though they have reached the two-decade mark as a band, it doesn’t seem that Dirty Heads intend to slow down anytime soon, proving the adage that some things do get better with age.

Jessica Chaiken can be reached at [email protected].

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