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Published: 2006/05/24
by Jim Collins

Brothers Past, Rathskeller, Madison, WI- 4/29

Unfortunately, some bad weather forced Brothers Past indoors for their recent trip to the University of Wisconsin.
This was the same spot where the band threw down a notoriously great show in September 2004. Though that was before I was ever exposed to the group, it was a recording of that night at the Madison Union Terrace that first got me hooked. And after arriving at the Terrace a little early, I discovered why the band was hyping this venue up on its website. The outdoor area included a stage with sprawling Lake Mendota as a backdrop. The picturesque view coupled with free admission, beer and plenty of space would make this an ideal venue.
Unfortunately, the band set up shop inside the Rathskeller area of the student union instead a strange place to see a show to say the least. In the room next door, people were playing cards and there was a pool hall just down the stairs. And oh yeah, students could be found throughout the building logged on to their computers doing homework on a Saturday night. There were even two people doing work directly in front of the band. One girl was on her laptop, the other guy was writing on a notepad while he danced. Apparently, he had an essay to write. Music makes me think, especially Brothers Past, he said. While I didnt bring a notebook with me, I couldnt disagree.
There was a decent turnout, but Brothers Past is still on the verge of breaking out. They are emerging stars, but still one of the scenes best kept secrets. And one of the most original acts youll ever see. Their mix of electronica and rock take audiences from an indie-pop concert one minute to an all out rave a few moments later. Its this combination thats at the very heart of their appeal. Solid songwriting and strong vocals from the raspy Tom McKee (keyboards) and the whiny Tom Hamilton (guitar and laptop) make for a catalog of well-crafted, catchy originals. Their hard hitting jams feature dark and edgy, drum-and-bass laden grooves that often launch into intense climaxes.
In Madison, a few of these high points came in two different segues into Radioheads National Anthem. In the first set, it was a jam out of State Police. In set two, One Rabbit Race led into a reprise of the cover songs thumping bass line. A bit earlier, the Bitches and Candy and Lines On Our Hands was a great way to start things off, with the latter song being one of a handful of impressive new songs that also includes Anvils, and Sound of Beauty Breaking. Add this new material to the impressive Jammy-nominated album This Feelings Called Goodbye, and these guys have a lot of great original music to work with, as this night demonstrated, despite the sparse crowd.
Do yourself a favor and check them out in an intimate setting now. I have a feeling Brothers Past is only going to continue to carve out a larger niche for themselves.

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