Concert Spotlight: The Dirty Nil

The Dirty Nil – “Master Volume Tour” – Saturday, December 1, 2018 – The Opera House, Toronto

I go to a lot of concerts. The typical conversation I have with my wife before I head out goes something like this:

Me: I’m heading out to the show, I’ll see you in the morning.  Love you

Her: Who are going to see this time?

Me: <insert band name here>

Her: Never heard of them, have fun.

That night started out no different, same conversation but little did I know that of the three dozen or so shows that I’ve seen in 2018 that the final night of The Dirty Nil’s “Master Volume Tour” would turn out to be the best.

I’d seen The Dirty Nil open for a couple other bands over the year and was excited at seeing them headline a show.  They did not disappoint.

The excitement in the crowd was palpable from the moment you stepped into the Opera House for the show.  The first band, The Drew Thomson Foundation got things going; the side project of Single Mothers’ singer, played to the crowd and kept asking people if they were excited for Dirty Nil for which of course he received positive feedback from the crowd.  When The Dirty Nil’s Luke Bentham came on stage with his clear guitar for the final song the crowd went wild.


Next up was Dead Soft, from Vancouver.  By this point the club was getting pretty close to its 900 person capacity.  By the time they were done you couldn’t move and the crowd couldn’t wait to see the band they had really come to see.  In the 40 minutes between sets, every time the crew came on stage to tune a guitar or test a mic the crowd cheered.  I’ve never seen people get so excited for the road crew.  Good job guys!


At the stroke of 10:00 The Dirty Nil (made up of singer/guitarist Luke Bentham; Bassist Ross Miller and drummer Kyle Fisher) hit the stage.  Bentham, in his studded cowboy shirt grinned at the crowd who were already jumping in anticipation and strummed the first notes of “That’s What Heaven Feels Like”, the first track off their latest album, Master Volume.

And so it began.  No matter how loud the band played. And they played really loud. At times they were drowned out by the singing crowd who couldn’t get enough.  Miller is an absolute animal on stage and hype-man.  The spotlights spelling out NIL, and the LEDs behind skull emblazoned screens made the stage look pretty big, and at times it seemed it wasn’t big enough for all of his energy, jumping around, playing and shouting.  Fisher is the epitome of a punk-band drummer, in his yellow prison-looking work shirt spray painted with the letters M and V on the chest, with hard and fast grooves that drive the music, getting the crowd jumping and the mosh pit moshing.

The floor of the venue is split off into three sections, each separated by a few stairs.  The lowest section in front of the stage was so packed that you couldn’t get your arms up to clap or even take a sip of your beer.  Over the course of the next hour and twenty minutes the trio went through nineteen blistering fast rock n roll songs before the encore with a couple small banter breaks.  In one, Bentham spoke about his mother disapproving of his mentioning his affection for weed in his acceptance speech at last year’s Juno awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys) before going into the song “Always High”.

During the song “Auf Weidersen” (off Master Volume) the crowd proudly waved black foam skeletal hands with the middle finger extended and the lyric “I mean this in a nice way” written across the bottom.  Finally, before taking a quick break prior to the encore, the band gave a shout-out to the founder of their record label, Joel Carriere of Dine Alone Records, and led the crowd in a rendition of Happy Birthday.

For the encore, the band treated the crowd to a couple of covers: Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” and “Hit the Lights” from Metallica.  As the lights came up and the crowd made their way out of the club and into the rainy street the general consensus was that we were all part of something special.

I made the mistake of forgetting my earplugs, but the ringing in my ears the next morning just added to the afterglow of the dopamine rush that comes from being part of such an amazing night.

The Dirty Nil’s latest album is available everywhere via Dine Alone Records.

TAGS: The Dirty Nil | The Drew Thomson Foundation | Dead Soft | Dine Alone Records

Elliott Spagat

Twitter: @emspag

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