As soon as I arrived at the venue I could see the line stretched far around the side of the building. What a sight for sore eyes. It's been so long since I've had the pleasure of standing in a crowded room of strangers all vibing to the same band. Compared to the last time Dirty Honey played the Bourbon in 2019 this was a complete blow out! The place was packed from front to back and the room was ready to rock.
Before the show started I got checked in for photos and scanned the room looking for any interesting characters or Dirty Honey super fans. I bumped into a young fan with a Dirty Honey hat, shirt, and pin. Tristan looked about 12 or 13 so I asked if it was his first show. He said "No way, I've been going to shows since I was seven". Pretty cool! I asked Tristan who he had seen the most and his dad Michael said Shinedown. I asked if they had seen Dirty Honey before and Michael said he was at the last Dirty Honey show in 2019. We geeked out over how much they sound like Aerosmith and how we had both seen Aerosmith back in the day. Michael said he skipped his high school graduation to see Aerosmith in 1992. He also got to party with Motley Crue back in the 90s! He and his friends were buddies with Faster Pussycat who was the supporting act on the Dr. Feelgood tour. They got to follow the tour for three shows and at one point Motley Crue stole all their beer! What a wild time. It was awesome getting back to talking shows and music history with fans again. It's really one of the best parts of going to shows, making new friends and bonding over bands you've seen.
Shortly after talking to Michael and Tristan I ran into Kurt from the Pit Magazine. We started towards the photo pit and Dirty Honey's tour manager asked us to follow him backstage. I thought it was a little strange since we don't normally have any protocol meetings for shooting photos, but in this post-pandemic world anything is possible. It turned out that Kurt was just getting a picture with the opening band, Joyous Wolf and I was a tag-along. Hanging backstage before the show? You won't find any complaints here! Sometimes life is pretty rad.
After our backstage hang Kurt and I took our spots in the photo pit and waited for Joyous Wolf to take the stage. Animal from 104.1 The Blaze stepped out and thanked everyone for coming to the show on a Tuesday night. The Blaze will soon be playing a new Joyous Wolf track and they're already spinning Dirty Honey's music. In fact, they were the first station in the nation to play Dirty Honey on the radio. No wonder Dirty Honey keeps coming back to Lincoln!
Joyous Wolf was the first band up and they came out shredding! These guys also had energy for days. Lead singer Nick Reese was literally doing cartwheels, handsprings, and splits. Like Dirty Honey, Joyous Wolf is part of a new wave bands that are bringing that classic rock feel to the forefront. While Dirty Honey are like direct descendants of Aerosmith, I feel like Joyous Wolf had more hints of bands like Boston, Led Zeppelin, and Cream. Of course both of these bands have their own unique style though, they're not carbon copies.
In addition to all their energy, Joyous Wolf definitely had the rock star look down. With leather jackets and skin-tight pants they looked like they stepped right out of a Led Zeppelin poster. When we were hanging back stage guitarist Blake Allard took off his laminate as they were just about to go on and said "I don't think I'll need this for now". I said "You guys could look so cool you can go anywhere in the club and everyone would move out of the way because they know you're in the band." It might seem silly, but the clothes are part of the magic!
As soon as Joyous Wolf's set ended everyone around me in the crowd looked at the people next to them and said "Oh man, those guys were killer". I saw several brand new Joyous Wolf shirts walking around before the night was over. Taking over one city at a time, good work dudes!
After a small setup intermission it was time for the LA bad boys Dirty Honey! Smoke filled the room and one by one the band took the stage. Guitarist John Notto was rocking a suede jacket and scarves and bassist Justin Smolian had a slick leather jacket and aviator glasses. Drummer Corey Coverstone stepped up his kit in shorts and a band shirt (for aero-dynamic purposes of course). Lead singer Marc Labelle stepped out last in his trademark top hat and coat while the band ripped into "Gypsy" from their new self-titled album.
This was a great set opener. It's got that bounce and groove that just makes you want to dance, but don't forget about the awesome storytelling. It's about a guy on the run trying to get away from his former lover but at the same time looking for that next case of heart break. If it was just 30 seconds shorter I would say it would make a great single. If I had to make a case for the next single I would say "The Wire" but that's just me.
Next the band threw it back to their 2019 E.P with "Break You" followed by a few new tracks "Take My Hand" and "The Wire".
Slowing things down Dirty Honey broke out the one-off "Fire Away". Hanging towards the back taking everything in this song hit just a bit different. The lyrics mention "when you start all over, yea you start all over". For me personally getting back into shows does feel a bit like starting all over, but it feels great!
The next song "Heartbreaker" was absolutely killer! Marc held out the mic for most of the song and the crowd completely took over the singing. That has to be an incredible feeling knowing your songs are resonating so much.
After "Heartbreaker" Justin played a wicked bass solo giving the other guys a break. It sounded like he was running some synth pedals because it came across kinda like the theme from Beverly Hills Cop but with a lot more shred. Later on, the crowd was treated to solos from both guitarist John Notto (which completely melted faces) and drummer Corey Coverstone (which was really impressive considering he just broke his wrist only a few weeks ago!).
Towards the end of the set I was expecting Dirty Honey to play their trademark cover of "Last Child" by Aerosmith, but they asked the crowd if they wanted Aerosmith or AC/DC. The cheering was pretty loud for both but AC/DC won out. Either way the crowd was going to get something awesome, but "Girls Got Rhythm" absolutely destroyed! I loved when Marc and John shared the microphone just like Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.
After one more song Dirty Honey broke out their latest single "California Dreamin". No, it's not a cover of the Mamas and the Papas. Dirty Honey lead singer Marc has said in interviews "Lots of people come out to California, chasing a dream, and sometimes, people just don't make it. California isn't always the 'land of milk and honey,' dreams don't always come true here, and that's the perspective this song takes. Well even if the message is a little dark, the song is a banger and the crowd ate it up.
After a short break DH came back out for an encore of their two biggest hits "When I'm Gone" and "Rollin 7s". As the final guitar notes rang out the crowd was still cheering for more, but after 14 songs and three different solos the band called it a night. I'll be honest, DH had my ears stuffed with rock goodness and I don't know if my old back could take much more, haha!
I was so honored to cover this show and I'm now officially a Dirty Honey super-fan. Any time they come back I'll be sure to be there. If you weren't there this time, hopefully you can be there for the next one! Dirty Honey just wrapped the first leg of this tour, but they'll soon be joining the Black Crowes on the "Shake Your Money Maker" tour. I'm really happy for these guys, this tour is going to be huge for them. It's very possible the next time Dirty Honey is in town the Bourbon will be too small for them. We'll just have to wait and see!
Dirty Honey is:
Marc LaBelle – vocals John Notto – guitars
Justin Smolian – bass
Corey Coverstone - drums
Big thanks to 104.1 The Blaze for bringing the show to Lincoln and a big shout out to Selena Fragassi at FR-PR for setting up media access. If you like what you read, please share! Also, we're on Facebook and Instagram @storiesfromthecrowd Make sure to follow so you don't miss any of the action!
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