Dex Romweber Duo, The Defilers
The Tin Roof
Sept. 16

A small but cheerful crowd at the Tin Roof applauded loudly for both the Defilers and the Dex Romweber Duo on Thursday night. Between the local trio’s high-volume country-punk and the brother/sister headliner’s elegantly twangy rock ‘n’ croon, the bill was a pretty strong pairing.

Battling a bad cold, Defilers singer/guitarist Arleigh Hertzler sounded about as raspy and hungover as he usually does, but the overall set was robust and vibrant. This band occasionally dishes out booze-induced slop on stage, but fresh out of a local studio session, they sounded unusually tight, armed with a pile of new tunes (“Tijuana Cock Fight” and “Get the Fuck Outta Dodge” were raucous stand-outs). Their brutal rendition of Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” hauled ass while a young couple hot-footed it around the room.

Folks stuck around for the entire closing set from singer/guitarist Dexter Romweber (ex-Flat Duo Jets) and drummer Sara Romweber (ex-Let’s Active, Snatches of Pink). For a basic two-piece band, they created an awful lot of sound. Sara’s busy cymbal and snare work tastefully filled spaces. Dex’s rich and nasty tone (by way of an antiquated Silvertone six-string and a small amp) wrapped around the rhythms nicely.

The duo handled quite a few cuts from their recent album Ruins of Berlin, including the sad and waltzy “If You Love Me” and the even more anguished (but beautiful) “It’s Too Late.” Their hoppin’ version of the theme to the film Brazil (“Aquarela do Brasil” by Ary Barroso) demonstrated Dex’s vocal range (from shouty to nearly operatic) and unique guitar technique (from delicate and strummy to almost violently noisy). Their handsome mix of swing and rock won over the uninitiated in the room.