Detroit is where the heart of rock and roll is still beating. Rock magazine Creem was founded there, and the critics who worked for that mag (including the late Lester Bangs, a former San Diegan) first minted some of the language that we still use to describe rock. Even a partial roll call of Motor City rock bands is profuse with early heavyweights: Del Shannon, the Stooges, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, the MC5, Bob Seeger, Mitch Ryder, and later, the White Stripes, Kid Rock, and garage revivalists such as the Dirtbombs.
The band formed during the mid-’90s, but the Dirtbombs bring the attitude of their predecessors. And that, going back to the beginning, has been the defining quality of Detroit rock’s founding bands: attitude. Sensitivity, four-part harmonies, or bleeding-heart lyrics were left to the folksters on the East Coast and the surf rockers on the West. And, unlike British-import bands, Motor City rockers were never a tribute to anything but themselves — they sound like something forged out of raw materials in a Midwestern foundry.
Dirtbombs founder and Detroit native Mick Collins is a past member of the Gories, a band said to have had a major influence on a young Jack White. Intended at first to be a side project, and surviving not only the years but roughly 17 different lineups, the Dirtbombs were named by Spin magazine in 2006 as one of its 25 Greatest Live Acts Now. With two drummers, two bass guitars, and a lead guitar, the vibe is rudimentary and full of flaws and sweaty meltdowns in the tradition of true garage rock and punk. The Dirtbombs sound as muscular as a full-blown street rod with a gas-sucking 426-cubic-inch hemi under the hood, even when performing covers or bubblegum. As is the custom in the Motor City, the ’Bombs maintain a distinct lack of subtlety. All this hard-ass Detroit rock: gotta be something in the water.
Dirtbombs: The Casbah, Wednesday, August 26, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $16.