The band: From left, Milan Venák, Patrik Pribila, and Jon Dale.
photo: Chris Togneri
So when the Bratislava-based band Drink Drank Drunk announced they would be playing at the Irish Pub on June 18, I went with the expectations of listening to some decent live music and enjoying an evening out on the town. What I did not expect was that I would walk away from the experience trying hard to remember a concert I'd ever enjoyed more.
The Friday night show brought a crowd which flowed into the street, waitresses who dodged dancing patrons, and an Irish Pub co-owner so enthused that he got up on the stage himself to drive the audience wild with a rendition of Metallica's "Whiskey in a Jar". The rock n' roll atmosphere was a welcome sight both because it may spell the end of the annoying keyboard duet which often punishes ears at the Irish Pub on Fridays, and because it launched the local career of "DDD", a music group with considerable charisma and talent.
The three-member band consists of British lead guitarist and singer Jon Dale, Slovak bass player Milan Venak, and Slovak drummer Patrik Pribila. Dale, from the town of Redcar in Northern England, is a small and unimposing figure ("If I lose anymore weight I'll need to be anchored to the stage," he joked before the show.) However, in front of a crowd he transforms into a dominating stage presence with casual guitar stylings and a humorously dry demeanour which can quickly win over a blasé crowd.
The night got off to a less-than auspicious start. Itching to get the crowd instantly involved, DDD began by covering the Beatles' "Hard Day's Night". Their plans were foiled, however, when the Irish Pubbers responded with a small smattering of applause, to which Dale quipped, "Thank you, thank you both of you, we love you."
Undeterred, the group slowly began to change people's minds. The turning point came at Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe" which Dale began by boasting, "I love playing this song because I have a really big guitar solo." Though sceptical at first, the crowd listened with raised eyebrows as Dale proved he was more than capable of covering rock's greatest guitar legend. And when he played the second half of a guitar solo with his mouth, Dale owned the crowd and the bar was, as they say, 'hoppin'.
One of the job hazards of being a cover band is combating audience boredom when playing an original. DDD successfully navigated this problem, however, by playing original tunes that were actually good - an ability few cover bands possess. Playing three separate sets, the band rolled out about 30 songs.
"Thank you very much," Dale said to the clapping fans. "We love you all and we want to have sex with all of you. But we'll love you even more if you buy our CD!" Their CD can be purchased at upcoming shows for 350 Slovak crowns.
DDD also showed off some witty bilingual repertoire that provided plenty of laughs throughout the show. When the bass player and drummer said something to the crowd in Slovak, Dale added, "This is great, they don't understand me and I don't understand them. I'm going to open my guitar case now and you can put money there because the drummer needs a hair implant."
Other show highlights included an extended version of "Stairway to Heaven" (Led Zeppelin), the crowd favourite "Wild World" (Cat Stevens), and a version of Bryan Adam's "Summer of '69" that had the native Ontarian next to me pounding the table in obvious Canadian bliss. Chumbawumba's "Tubthumping" concluded the show in raucous style and left the crowd chanting for more. Pub owner Billy pacified the group by promising that DDD would be back at the Irish Pub soon.
DDD also played last Sunday at a street festival in Bratislava, and Dale promised more upcoming dates. The next performance will be this Saturday, June 26, again at the Irish Pub, and tentative plans to play at Bratislava's Kelt and Grizzly bars have been discussed. If you go to see the band, bring an appetite for music and the extra funds to purchase the CD. You won't be disappointed.