Project Description

Dirty Rotten Imbeciles @ Transit Bar 16/02/17 (Live Review)

The letters D.R.I. don’t mean much to most people. Expanding it to the full Dirty Rotten Imbeciles probably doesn’t help but D.R.I. are a revolutionary act without whom the likes of Anthrax and Suicidal Tendencies would never have been possible. They are a seminal act whose influence cannot be overstated

Its hard to imagine now but DRI fused metal and punk in a time when the genres were thought of as opposing rather than related. Its difficult to think of another band who’s fans straddled both genres to the extent D.R.I.’s did, except maybe Motorhead. Their sound is simple; they play short, sharp fast and fucking loud.  Despite the lack of complexity, hey are defined by their deviation from genre. Purity is death; it is stagnation, atrophy. D.R.I. rejected the very idea from the beginning. Before punk became hardcore and descended into self parody and before metal became anything-core D.R.I recognised how constrictive it was to think in those terms.

An enduring career that spans four decades has in no way diminished their intensity. Tonight they play to a packed house full of ageing rebels with shaved heads and greying beards and home made tattoos. Down front the pit rages; there may be a little less blood than there was in the 80s but the sentiment remains the same.

Tonight’s caper kicks off with a local five piece calling themselves Kid Presentable. The could use some tightening up in terms of stage presence but their’s is a likeably no bullshit punk sound.

They’re succeeded by 3 chord, dumb arse, punk’n’rock’n’roll band from Queanbeyan (their words, not mine) The Vee Bees. They look and sound like the Long Bay Jail house band. Its tough and its dirty but there’s still enough melody in there to make it rock n roll you can move to. They are so completely Australian in spirit and in song its ridiculous. Titles include ‘Meet my Middle Finger’ and “Dickheads Anonymous’. Its a thing you’ve got to see to believe.

The third act are a Melbourne band, a more traditionally thrash act, called Wolfpack. They are a curious bunch in that they appear to be constituted solely for the purpose of raising money entirely for animal rights, donating every cent they generate as a band to various charities. Their sound is probably the most accessible of the four acts playing tonight and they’ve got enough groove to hold a pretty demanding audience. They’re sort of riff heavy but also very much skins lead.

Finally D.R.I. hit the stage, frontman Kurt Brecht is his ornery dishevelled self through and through. They play and they play hard. Its a barrage of sound that even in the context of today’s consciously brutal metal and punk scene is overwhelming. The thing about D.R.I is that its minimalism before such a concept existed. Nothing is superfluous, not a note or a lyric or a beat. There is no adornment. They sound is engulfing but sparse, finding its intensity in what it can make from nothing. In this context its easy to see why people think they drove a movement formed as opposition to the excesses of the late 70s early 80s. It is also a movement they’ve steadily made their way back to. They’ve always had a good following here and tonight demonstrates how little that has diminished over the years. By the end of the show there are a lot of dudes in their mid forties who know they’re going to be nursing some serious pain come tomorrow. I’m pretty sure they’d all say it was worth it.

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Reviewer Details

  • Benjamin Smith