Dirtfoot brings raucous genre-bending rock to Roots N Blues after-party

The Louisiana swamp-rockers gave a gung-ho live show after the first night of Roots N Blues.

Few bands can honestly describe themselves as a fusion of country, punk, folk, blues and old-fashioned rock-and-roll. Dirtfoot manages to compellingly combine all of these genres, even adding accents of psychedelia and gypsy music to create a raucous, foot-stomping sound. Performed at Rose Music Hall, the Shreveport, Louisiana band’s infectious energy was augmented by the venue, building an atmosphere that was perfect for the after-party.

I spent the majority of the performance at the front of the venue, along with the most enthusiastic audience members. Dirtfoot performed with a chaotic, backwoods swagger that helped characterize the overall mood of the event. The audience was not hesitant about adding their own energy, and soon the room was head-banging and hollering along to Dirtfoot’s propulsive swamp rock.

The band’s own impressive crowd-work contributed to the boisterous atmosphere. Aside from the drums, two guitars, banjo, upright bass and trombone that compose Dirtfoot’s musical lineup, there is another member who essentially acts as the band’s hype man. Towering over the crowd, the seventh man of Dirtfoot stands on stilts, wearing vertically striped red and white pants, a denim jacket and a rubber pig mask. He danced adjacent to the stage or walked through the after-party during the entire show, passing out makeshift tin-can shaker instruments to the audience. For their part, the audience was more than happy to participate and readily matched the band’s spirit.

Dirtfoot’s stage presence matched their larger-than-life combination of genres. Frontman Matt Hazelton’s voice oscillated between growls and yelps with charismatic force, making him one of many incredibly dynamic aspects of the performance. An early classic highlight came only a few songs in with the raunchy, bluegrass-inflected “Entertain Me.” The crowd’s reaction was visceral, and several fans danced along with the song’s frenzied beat. This helped set the tone for the rest of the evening: “Devil Don’t Care” — a driving, folk-rock number and the band’s number one streamed song on Spotify — elicited a similar rowdy response from the crowd.

The haunting performance of “Back of a Stranger” was a surprisingly powerful moment in the set. “Stranger” has a slow, creeping menace that contrasts with some of the more manic songs, which would normally seem out of place at an after-party. Despite this, the song culminated with an instrumental jam that enthralled the crowd. As the break reached the height of its intensity, the entire venue was swaying with the song’s throbbing, hypnotic energy. The experience left the audience breathing heavily and hollering for more.

The peak of the performance was another impressive combination of free-wheeling jamming and musical virtuosity. A rapid drum solo performed by John Hoffman, who was eventually joined by Doug Dicharry on the washboard, added a particularly eerie element to the performance before the growing crescendo. The result was an all-encompassing experience that played off the more reckless facets of roots music.

Dirtfoot showed up to Rose Music Hall with gusto, ready for a night of music that was just as much of a party as a concert. Their genre-combining sound exuded a reckless confidence. The band showed their years of experience with live performance, but their show never felt tired or washed up. Performing at the after-party left the band and audience free to cut loose, helping everyone go a little bit hog wild after the first day of Roots N Blues N BBQ.

Edited by Alexandra Sharp | asharp@themaneater.com

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