Brothers Past, Blind Pig, Ann Arbor, MI- 9/15 & Subterranean, Chicago, IL- 9/17
Don’t let their name fool you, Brothers Past is laying down the sound of the future. Armed with the potent combination of quality songwriting and no-holds-barred trance-driven jams, this Philly-based quartet is taking electronic-rock music to the next level. I was able to catch two shows from their recent run through the Midwest that only further solidified their spot among my favorite bands touring today. And I’m still somewhat of a newbie having seen them for the first time in April. I went into that show at the Hothouse in Chicago on the recommendation of a few friends – completely unfamiliar to the music. Brothers Past’s energy and originality blew my mind, I really wasn’t expecting it (those are often some of the best musical experiences and it doesn’t happen too often).
Over the summer months, their live shows and studio albums have been dominating my airwaves. I made it a point to catch them a few times as they passed back through my neck the woods in September. First I saw them at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. The show was short, but sweet. I didn’t know if it could get much better than the kicking off the show with two songs at the top of my list “Big Blue Apples” and “Getaway Somehow,” both prime examples of the lethal combination I pointed to at the outset. Like many of their tunes performed live, they start with a structured song and launch into space with some heavy electronica jams loaded with heart pounding bass and breakbeat drums. It is entertaining in itself to watch guitarist Tom Hamilton manipulate a plethora of sounds as he works his many foot pedals and steps back to pump out some beats from his laptop. The second set’s “Catharsis” reminded me of a few of their east coast jamband counterparts. I thought the first notes were reminiscent of something you might hear from moe. Then as they closed out the show with a return to Catharsis, those same notes with a little more force reminded more of a Biscuits’ jam. But don’t let those comparisons throw you off, Brothers Past really doesn’t compare to anyone playing out there today. They have lyrics overflowing with emotion and a level of intensity that is hard to match.
Two days later, at Chicago’s Subterranean, they dropped another bomb and this time the performance lasted a little longer to boot. The first set was solid from top to bottom – from the Bitches & Candy opener to The Ceiling/Celebrity sandwich to wrap things up. They didn’t lose me for a minute. Much to the crowd’s delight, they got something new to open the second set – a cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” a song that fits in perfectly with the band’s style. From there, they launched into a catchy song that got me hooked at my first show last April “Let’s Start A Gang.” The other big highlight I have to point to is “Dead Clowns.” It sounds like it could be a pop hit from the 80s and then switches gears and warps into some darker, drum and bass laden territory.
For being such an advocate of the band, I probably shouldn’t preface every introduction to a friend with “They are not for everyone.” But this band is different and not everyone welcomes different with open arms. I have already seen that with more than one friend. A mixture of punk, trance, pop and rock isn’t a recipe for instant widespread appeal. I have to admit – even I was a little hesitant when I first popped This Feeling’s Called Goodbye into my CD player on a hung-over morning drive home following the Hothouse show. The opening track “Leave the Light On” caught me a little off guard was this the same band I was so ecstatic about the night before? But a few listens later that very same track along with a handful of others were constantly running through my head. So open your mind and give these guys a serious try, they’re the real deal. The days of smaller Chicago venues like the Hothouse and the Subterranean will soon be over.