A riff-laden show for those looking to cast off what’s keeping them down
Devotees of heaviness, Dilly Dally, opened their latest North American tour at Bar Le Ritz on March 18, with support from Montreal’s buoyant garage-rockers NOBRO.
Dilly Dally named their 2018 album Heaven because they say it feels like something they would have made if they all died, equating the feeling to the pressure and touring workload that came with the success of their 2015 debut, Sore.
The music on Sore fused punk with alt-rock and had more of a sneering delivery than Heaven, which is more meditative and formed around the tempos and rhythms of doom metal rather than punk.
They began with the opening track from Heaven, “I Feel Free,” which they released as the lead single last summer to announce the band’s return. The title, according to singer and guitarist Katie Monks, refers to the band’s desire to move on from any petty grievances they developed while touring for Sore.
That song feels simultaneously more restrained and more emotionally intense than what can be found on Sore, but as Le Devoir pointed out in its review of the album, it also kind of sounds like Coldplay.
What the music press fixates on most with Dilly Dally is Monks’s vocals, which jump between raspy whispers and throaty screams. It is the kind of singing that leaves you wondering how much tea they must drink to be able to do it on a regular basis.
And Monks’s singing is a large part of what gives Dilly Dally their unique identity. The music itself is skillfully crafted but sometimes feels like it adheres too conventionally to what influences it.
On the other hand, the song “Doom,” unsurprisingly one of the heaviest songs on the album, is enjoyable precisely because it proceeds over a fairly typical metal riff that nonetheless touches some primordial part of you.
If the song structures sometimes feel a little commonplace, then other elements join the vocals to create an intensity and personality that elevate Dilly Dally well above their peers.
This alchemy came through in crushing renditions of “Sober Motel,” “Marijuana” and “Sorry Ur Mad.” The setlist was skewed toward their newest release, but made sure to touch on highlights from Sore like “Desire” and “Purple Rage,” the latter of which came with a cover of Drake’s “Know Yourself” as a lead-in, something they’ve been doing since their 2015 shows.
A smart move was the inclusion of NOBRO as the opener, a band that Dilly Dally had played with before on a tour with U.S. band FIDLAR. All four members play like they are wholly committed to carrying the energy of the performance by themselves.
What they play is strident and fun-loving, in the vein of 70s proto-punkers New York Dolls, and features the kind of catchy, singalong chorus one expects from simple and honest rock and roll. Yet, their music deftly combines various eras of guitar-oriented music, from the hard rock of Thin Lizzy, to the virtuosity of Van Halen. It goes without saying that they never fail to entertain.