Plastered with flat grey clouds and a brisk ocean breeze, Pier 97 seemed more like a faded postcard than a place to pound out ska punk and psychedelic rock. But with California’s Dirty Heads and Slightly Stoopid slated to play JBL Live, the salty air got a little bit grassier as an ultra-chill crowd eased up to the stage, cold beers in hands, cute girls on shoulders.
Dirty Heads showed off an impressive range throughout their set, in both style and dynamics. Jared Watson’s ability to sink down into softer tones and surge back up in seconds brought a fresh emphasis to his deep, gritty vocals.
“Who’s got work tomorrow and is gonna show up hungover and just love it?” he asked the audience, who roared back happily. “This one’s for you,” he replied, right before sliding into “Spread Too Thin.” Dirty Heads heated things up with “Sloth’s Revenge” and “I Got No Time.” Then they literally cooled things down, spraying icy water bottles over the smoky crowd.
As if taking a cue from their good vibes, the grey clouds unpeeled to reveal a glossy pink sunset. The colors swirled and shimmered on the West 57th tower, the radical, ripped-up pyramid conceived by famed Danish architect Bjarke Ingels. While Stoopid’s crew tugged a retro Star Wars amp onto the stage, fans playfully tried to coax the security guards into having a smoke.
Opening with a tight, jazzy intro, Slightly Stoopid said a quick hello and launched into “Bandelero,” a sexy ode to girls and guns (and guns and girls). Backed by the group’s powerful brass, sax, and percussion, Miles Doughty and Kyle McDonald brought a double dose of passion into every word they sang. In return, the fans in front passed them a dose or two of something else.
“Officer” had everyone jamming, and a huge crowd-pleaser was their cover of Bob Marley’s “Roots Rock Reggae,” a smart choice for their set. Slightly Stoopid’s backup vocals were strong from start to finish, and their instrumentals constantly felt like the start of something good. The evening may have been a little dirty, but it wasn’t even slightly stupid.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley