Orlando FL. (April 10th, 2022)
When it was announced that Dirty Honey and Mammoth WVH two of the hottest rock acts were teaming up to form the Young Guns Tour, this quickly became the hot ticket. At every stop along the way, both bands played to sold out crowds, rave reviews, and proving to the world that the future was indeed now. With Grammy Awards looming and a nomination for Mammoth WVH, the tour took a quick break so Wolfgang could attend. But disaster struck as the tour was set to reconvene. Covid hit the crew for Mammoth WVH causing them to pull out for the remaining dates of the tour.
The ball was firmly in the camp of Dirty Honey as to what they would do. Everyone would be disappointed but understood if they called it a tour. Being the young guns that they are, that option wasn’t even close to being on the table. With the incredible reputation that they have built through hard work on the road there was really only one option. They would find and grab another band to finish out the tour as headliner of the remaining tour dates.
Finally, the day arrived when Dirty Honey would hit the stage at The Hard Rock Live in Orlando Florida. With the venue filling up quickly the prevailing mood seemed to be that yes, people were disappointed that Mammoth WVH wasn’t in the house that night, but at the same time the excitement level was sky high as Dirty Honey would be hitting the stage in just a little bit. Another positive to the situation would be that they would get more time to wow their fans. With the tour down to one band, they would need to find an act that would fit in style wise and be able to hit the road quickly. The band they found was Nashville’s very own the Naked Gypsy Queens.
With a style very reminiscent to Dirty Honey, the Naked Gypsy Queens were a perfect fit for the night. While the crowd wasn’t familiar with them, once they got into their first song the night started to turn into a proper rock show. Over the course of the next forty minutes this quartet did exactly what they were supposed to do. They got everyone hyped up for the show and introduced them to another great band to follow.
After the change over and a quick break for everyone to grab a drink and to compare notes of how many Dirty Honey shows they have been to so far, the house lights dimmed and now it was time for one of the hottest bands on the planet to hit the stage. Guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian, and drummer Corey Coverstone came out first to a cheering crowd. Somehow the fans shifted into another gear when singer Marc Labelle made his way out. Dressed in black velour pants, matching jacket, a wide brimmed hat and aviator style glasses, Labelle looked every bit the part of the rock band front man.
Not only did Labelle look the part of the front man, but he also showed everyone that sometimes looks aren’t deceiving. Throughout the night he worked the crowd liked a seasoned pro. But this isn’t one of those there is the lead singer and the other guys kind of band. Notto, Smolian, and Coverstone all play their parts in the group to perfection. After all every top notch band needs the rock god in waiting guitarist, a hip cool bassist, and the chill drummer that holds it all together.
Without hesitation, they launched into “California Dreamin’ ”, the title track of their first full length album. While the song speaks of the dark side of chasing dreams in California, their performance was anything but dark. They delivered a knockout punch performance to start the night. In their short career, they have had the honor of sharing the stage with some of rocks biggest names such as Guns N Roses and the Black Crowes. It’s obvious that they have done more than just play those shows, they watched and took notes, and those lessons were applied tonight.
Their performances of “Break You” and “Heartbreaker” were big ol’ heaping’s of 70’s and 80’s rock swagger served up in a modern dish. But don’t be too quick to dismiss them as just a retro act. While they may take some inspiration from that genre, it is more than just an influence. It is so woven into their collective DNA that their performances are more than authentic, it is just who they are. It’s this level of connection to the music that just draws everyone into their shows.
While much of their music is up-tempo foot stomping rockers, much of their beloved style of music has it’s roots in the Blues. So, there are no surprises when they slow down the show with “Down The Road”. Labelle croons the lyrics with equal parts of bitterness and hurt that the song needs. Alongside of all this Notto interjects perfectly placed distortion ladened blues licks. If holding up a lighter was still a thing at a show, this would be the moment for it to happen.
The band decided to keep things bluesy but this time with a twist. It’s well known that Dirty Honey has no problems covering some of rocks most iconic songs with flair and authenticity. But they made a bold surprise of a choice to cover in “Lets Go Crazy”. Yes, they picked a Prince song. If that wasn’t a daring enough decision, their choice of how to perform it showed they aren’t afraid to make things their own. Instead of playing it straight up, which would have been fun but expected, they slowed things way down and filled it up with a slow blues groove. Judging by everyone’s reaction they may have another hit on their hands.
One of the vestiges of rock shows of the past was the solo. While concerts these days focus on songs, it used to be a real treat to see the musicians flex their chops. Thankfully, Dirty Honey has brought this back. While everyone gets to see John Notto perform his guitar gymnastics throughout the night, and yes, he even had an amazing solo, but getting to bassist Justin Smolian and drummer Corey Coverstone cut loose is a real treat. While Coverstone tends to lay back and provide a solid backdrop for the other guys to work their magic, when he solos you get to see just how talented a drummer he is. Smolian’s solo was equally impressive as it was loaded with harmonics which is no mean feat on a bass guitar.
After a rip roaring cover of the AC/DC classic song “Shoot For Thrills”, they performed the song that launched their career “When I’m Gone”. After watching them play all night and getting wrapped up in the show it’s easy to forget that this band remains unsigned, and this song became such a big hit without any record label support. After Labelle did a quick introduction of all his band mates, they launched into the last song of the night which is one of their most popular songs “Rolling 7’s”. With Notto and Labelle sharing the mic at times, it was easy to see that they were having the time of their lives.
What was setup to be a great concert featuring two of the hottest acts in rock music was nearly dashed by the remnant’s of a pandemic. While the tour lost Mammoth WVH, the other young gun, Dirty Honey picked up the slack and delivered one of the best shows of their young career. With more time on stage to strut their stuff, they took advantage of every minute they had and knocked it out of the park. If anything, this may be a blessing as the band proved they have the talent, charisma, and chops to headline a bigger tour. While the industry is busy Pidgeon holing and classifying every band into a genre, Dirty Honey has come along and done the true rock n roll thing. They’ve thumbed their nose at the industry and done things their way. It looks like rock is in great shape with Dirty Honey.
Hard Rock Live:
Naked Gypsy Queens: