Live Review: Hotline TNT, The Dirts at Reverb…

Category: Blog,Reviews — Tags: , — @ 12:24 pm November 23, 2023

Hotline TNT at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 22, 2023.

by Tim McMahan,

A quick review on this holiest of Turkey Days.

Reverb Lounge was semi-packed (not jam-packed, not cram-full) for last night’s Hotline TNT show. Pushing through the crowd to get my Rolling Rock, I noticed the booths toward the back were full of very young people stacked up around the tables, looking tired and annoyed. I’m sure there’s an interesting back story to this that involves the two opening band, which I missed.

I had no idea who was on stage – a five piece dominated by a dude playing a Flying V, surrounded by an all-female backing band. This obviously wasn’t Hotline TNT, but who was it? I was pleasantly surprised at how good they were. Especially the dude on the V who had a decent voice. He shared vocals with a woefully under-amped lead guitarist, who, when she sang, could barely be heard. 

The Dirts at Reverb Lounge, Nov. 22, 2023.

The guy, however… an interesting voice. It almost sounded like he was singing with an accent. It wouldn’t be until the end of their set, while the guitarist was looking for a capo, that he said (without an accent), “We’re The Dirts and this is ‘High Flying Bird,’” — their last song of their set. I ran into MarQ Manner in the crowd, who said they were, indeed, local and that the guy also was in Garst. The only “Dirts” band I could find online was the Swedish punk act by the same name. TIme for a name change, folks, and please let me know when you play out again…

Hotline TNT came on at around 10:30. Their style — very ‘90s wall-of-guitars — thanks to having three guitarists. Very much a Sugar/Bob Mould/Teenage Fanclub vibe – just a pure ’90s post-punk sound that was even better live than on their much-lauded, overblown (recording-wise) debut album. The only drawback to the live renditions were frontman Will Anderson’s lackluster vocals, but in the end, it didn’t matter when the night’s theme was, “How can we build on this guitar riff?”

Throughout the set, the third guitarist kept breaking strings. When he broke the first one, the lead guitarist handed him his guitar and picked up another. Then when he broke a string on that one, it looked like he borrowed a guitar from the Dirts (though I’m not certain — though it looked like same SG). 

This guitar swapping required much between-song tuning, where Anderson asked the crowd if anyone was taking part in tomorrow’s Turkey Trot. No response. He kicked off the next song with, “Let’s see your Turkey Trot right here,” pointing at the area in front of the stage. Not from this crowd. Instead, he just got more fervent head nods.

I liked listening to these guys if only for the sheer guitar-riff power and the wayback-machine quality of their post-punk songs. Not a bad way to spend a Wednesday night before Thanksgiving…

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