Having two drummers and two bass players on stage means a lot of rhythm, which underpinned the Dirtbombs’ show Tuesday night at Café Nine in New Haven.
Instead of going for contrasting polyrhythms or contrapuntal bass parts, though, the Detroit garage-rockers used all that low end in tandem to create an extra solid bedrock for the band’s big, tough sound.
And the Dirtbombs sound tough. In fact, the five-piece band sounds like Detroit: loud, fast and a little gritty on songs mixing fuzzed-out garage-rock guitar riffs with old-school soul melodies in a mash-up that evokes both Motown and the MC5.
The band formed in 1992, long before garage rock became cool again in the early ’00s, which gives the group more than 15 years of material. The Dirtbombs focused on their newest album, “We Have You Surrounded,” and mixed in older tunes while barreling through a set that seemed to scarcely pause for breath. The clattering wreckage at the end of a song inevitably metamorphosed into the next tune, and the taut, lean riffs kept coming.
Guitarist and singer Mick Collins, impassive behind dark sunglasses, alternated between the falsetto he employed on “Start the Party” and a conversational, almost dreamy tone on tunes like “Motor City Baby,” an irresistible rave-up with a big arresting guitar riff and dirty unison bits with a fuzzed-out bass.
Someone’s amplifier sounded like it was about to die on “Sherlock Holmes,” a quirky paean to the fictional detective’s lover-man skills, and the big, wet guitar sound on “Wreck My Flow” called to mind a scuffle in a grimy back alley.
San Francisco singer Kelley Stoltz opened the show, which was no small effort considering the gash he opened on top of his head earlier in the day when he banged into the overhang on the staircase heading to the basement dressing room.
Although he looked a bit woozy on stage, Stoltz’s sardonic sense of humor was intact on, and in between, jangling indie-pop songs. His skillful band fleshed out the subtle psychedelia of his music with saxophone, xylophone and even — a concert rarity —a theremin, the instrument used to create that keening vintage horror-movie sound.