Mammoth WVH and Dirty Honey at Diamond Ballroom
We like to keep on keepin’ on with, as we like to say, ‘the same three guys and the same three chords.’
– Billy Gibbons
Teachers want to teach you theory, and that’s fine, but when it comes to rock and roll, you only need three chords. There’s something comforting about that. – Alice Ripley
Country Music is three chords and the truth. – Harlan Howard
Somewhere, somehow “three chords” became synonymous with rock and roll. I mean, as Mr. Howard’s quote above alludes to, those same three chords have slipped in and out of countless musical genres, country included since their murky origins. But with all due respect to Mr. Howard, today that reference gets used nearly exclusively for rock and roll.
Whatever you want to call it, I like it, and like Ms. Ripley says above, there is a comfort to be found in its primal simplicity. I’ve always struggled with musical genres overall. If it connects with me on whatever cerebral level, I don’t care what category people think it might fall into. A good songwriter is a good songwriter, whether it’s John Prine, Bob Dylan, Rush’s Neil Peart or even Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. Many of my contributions with Americana Highways over the years have highlighted artists that some might say push the boundaries of what some might think Americana is. I don’t know exactly where something stops being Americana and becomes rock and roll. The roots are pretty much intertwined, so other than volume, I’m finding it harder and harder to half to separate the two.
So, all that to tell y’all I saw two kick ass bands this past Saturday night. MammothWVH and Dirty Honey. There were three chords, a whole lot of volume and definitely a lot of fun.
Mammoth WVH and Dirty Honey brought their Young Guns 2022 tour to Oklahoma City’s Diamond Ballroom this part Saturday night. National tours have been slowly making their way back into OKC this year, leaving concert fans with an itch to see live music, and this show, on a Saturday night resulted in one of the more crowded shows I’ve seen at the Diamond Ballroom.
As the room filled up it was great seeing friends reconnect with hugs and smiles and to listen to all those music conversations and the memories they’d shared. There was a kind of different electricity in air and an obvious excitement for the show. Lots of fans of each band already sporting their gear, and a nearly never ending line a merch all night.
Dirty Honey took the stage first and proceeded to raucously deliver their Los Angeles rock and roll at a blistering pace. Comprised of vocalist Marc Labelle, guitarist John Notto, bassist Justin Smolian and drummer Corey Coverstone, Dirty Honey has been touring in support of their eponymous album released last year. Opening with “Gypsy” the band proceeded to lay out a dozen strong rockers that kept the audience right in the thick of it. Reminded me of early Black Crowes Shake Your Moneymaker era. That’s not to say that’s necessarily what they sounded like, rather, I heard that influence. Which took me back to the time I first saw the Crowes, and how much they reminded me at the time of Faces, Stones and Zeppelin. I’m sure somewhere there’s someone that remembers a similar realization with those bands too. Dirty Honey has managed to snatch up a bunch of those influences and blend them all together to make a sound that while familiar, is distinctly their own. Imagine a raucous ’70’s rock version of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and well, that’s Dirty Honey. Good stuff.
Closing things down this evening was Los Angeles’ Mammoth WVH. Comprised of Wolfgang Van Halen on vocals, guitar and keys, guitarist Jon Jourdan, bassist Ronnie Ficarro and drummer Garret Whitlock the band stomped on the pedal and rarely let off the gas over the next hour and a half. The band’s eponymous album, released on EX1 was one of my absolute favorites last year regardless of genres. It’s that good. I’ve always been a sucker for power pop and melodic hooks, and Mammoth’s album was all of that and much more.
This was a special experience. Live, Mammoth managed to capture and share the same joy I experienced from the album. I saw it in other people’s faces too. Over and over I heard how blown away people were with how tight the band was. How good they were. Neither band needed anything but their songs tonight. No cheap thrills were needed. There weren’t props or massive lighting rigs, fog or lasers. Believe me, nobody missed ’em. This was a straight up rock and roll show in all it’s bacchanalian glory. Guitars, drums, amps, electricity and sweat. It was one of those, “what a time to be alive, Hallelujah!” moments, and it was that way from the moment they took the stage. The band opened up with the song “Mammoth” followed by “Mr. Ed” and over the course of their set they played pretty much of the album, a new song called, “I Don’t Know at All” and a blistering cover of Alice In Chain’s “Them Bones” Highlights for me were “Epiphany”, “Think It Over” (introduced as his dad’s favorite song), and “Distance.” Van Halen and band kept the audience right in the palm of their hand throughout, seeming to be genuinely moved that so many in the audience were singing along. A really memorable performance.
The future of rock and roll seems to fall into doubt every couple of decades. I don’t really know why,. Bands like Mammoth and Dirty Honey are proof that rock and roll is as alive as it’s ever been. There’s tons of great music constantly being overlooked, and for some reason I find joy in sharing it. I think both of these bands are refreshing and clever, and I just wanted y’all to know. I hope it inspires you to listen to something you usually wouldn’t. Maybe ask a friend for a recommendation out of your comfort zone. Better yet, go buy a ticket and see a band you normally wouldn’t. You might find a whole new world to explore.
You can checkout Mammoth WVH here: https://www.mammothwvh.com
You can find out more about Dirty Honey here: https://www.dirtyhoney.com/