The Dirtbombs / Kelley Stoltz Babylon, Ottawa ON April 15

With the recent release of high profile records by the Black Keys, Jay Reatard and King Khan, rock’n’roll may become the "dance punk” of 2008. Again. Combine this with the Dirtbombs’ frequent visits to the capital, and it’s no surprise that Babylon was jam-packed on a Tuesday night. Kelley Stoltz, looking festive in winter scarves and a bulky jacket, took the stage with his four-piece backing band. Stoltz eased his way through a set that highlighted material from his latest Sub Pop release Circular Sounds, while conjuring the ghosts of Brian Wilson’s Surf’s Up-era gentle release and pop fixation. Stoltz and his band, highlighted by James Kim from the Court and Spark, and the musically endowed Jamin Barton on keys, sax, Theremin and xylophone, delivered a headliner-worthy performance despite an increasingly apathetic response from the crowd. The dual drum and guitar legend of the Dirtbombs drifted on the stage after 11 p.m. with singer/guitarist Mick Collins looking as weathered and leathery as one might expect. Kicking out the jams on fan favourites like "Underdog,” "Motor City Baby” and a makes-more-sense-if-you-hear-it cover of "Need You Tonight” by INXS, Mick’s silky smooth voice and the band’s overall delivery sounded much grittier than in recent memory. Ko Shih’s switch from bass to guitar has added a new element to the live show, as she ferociously and sadistically pushed every note from her beaten Jaguar. The show came to a volcanic end as Collins jumped behind one of the two drum sets while his band thrashed about on stage. As the new breed of indie bands are obsessively clapping their hands and saying yeah, the Dirtbombs are busy reminding us that Chuck Berry is as relevant in 2008 as the Arcade Fire.