The Dirty Nil with Warp Lines and Dead Soft – Live at Babylon – November 28th, 2018

December 3rd, 2018 by  |  Published in Concerts

The concept of rock and roll is oft forgotten in a city like Ottawa, where work the next morning and the inconvenience of a weeknight keeps folks at home instead of catching a show. This was not the case on Wednesday, November 28th, when The Dirty Nil showed exactly why anyone from the Capital losing faith would need to keep just that, faith in rock and roll.

The Dirty NilIf you’re unfamiliar with The Dirty Nil, stop that. They previously released two okay LPs and then, on September 14th, 2018, released a really really decent one. A contender for one of the best  Canadian albums in 2018, their third record, Master Volume is simply a must-listen. They’ve won a Juno; a feat frontman Luke Bentham did not shy away from informing the packed Babylon during a break in their set.

The night started with local act Warp Lines. They were fine. Dead Soft, a Vancouver rock act tagging along with The Dirty Nil for a swing of shows on this tour followed. Dead Soft played, to put it unpoetically, good music. The Vancouver group caught and kept the attention of the quickly filling crowd. At the end of the set, a quick glance around the room saw many simultaneous nods of approval and satisfaction from new fans.

The lights dimmed, and anticipation rose for what quickly became a full Babylon. An off-timed “Dirty! Nil!” chant commenced and the enthused guitar tech double and triple checked the guitars. Most bands choose to go on stage to an intro song, and it’s usually some deep cut influence or a song from many decades ago to demonstrate the musical inclination of the band. The Dirty Nil chose “Sandstorm” by Darude, you know, the electronic anthem inserted into infinite gym and sports warm-up playlists? That one. The choice was unsettling and lit genuine worry for the show-to-come. The band took the stage fist-pumping to the beat. It was scary.

The feedback swelled and as the band leaped into the opening song off Master Volume, “That’s What Heaven Feels Like.” Any and all worry evaporated. The crowd knew every word and by every indication, the night was going to be memorable. Bass player Ross Miller exhibited leg kicks high enough to knock anyone’s teeth out and delivered some props and handshakes to the elated members of the first row. The bassist conducted the crowd. He would raise his arms to receive cheers, point to screams, and if someone made the mistake of looking even remotely disinterested (which I plead guilty to during an unexpected moment of mediocrity from the trio about halfway through their set), he stared you down until you started having fun again.

Ross Miller is the second bassist for the group. The Dirty Nil changed their bass player around 2017, and I can’t speak about the previous guy, but Miller is a perfect fit both musically and entertainment-wise. He made the show better than it already was—and when the audience felt too comfortable, he sprinkled in an awkward comment to ensure the attention was on stage, and the audience had as much fun as the band did.

As the set neared the end, they played the final track on Master Volume, “Evil Side.” I am personally responsible for a number well into the triple digits of streams for this song. The tune live was excellent, and they departed the stage to more “Dirty! Nil!” chants.

The chant was a little bit weak as the trio had drained the Ottawa crowd, but they returned to the stage to play Metallica’s “Hit the Lights” better than Metallica plays it. The band departed to more cheers, and when the reality set in that the show was indeed, over, the feeling of the room wasn’t of relief, but excitement. The Dirty Nil play rock and roll.

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