Brothers Past, The Beat Kitchen, Chicago, IL- 4/20-21
Starting off the Green Apple Music Festival, Brothers Past was one of the many bands playing in Chicago on the weekend of Earth Day. While Brothers Past two-night stand at The Beat Kitchen may have been sweat soaked, it was outright entertaining and dark electronic music.
The fist set was highlighted with a two-year bust out of “Up In Arms” which had fans careening across the first few rows of the tiny Beat Kitchen to hug in elation. The pinnacle of the first set came next with “Boomerang>Squeeze>Forget You Know Me>Squeeze.” “Forget You Know Me” the fifth track on 2005’s This Feeling’s Called Goodbye was sandwiched seamlessly through “Squeeze” but it was the last segment of “Squeeze” that sent the sweat-laden crowd through the roof. It’s evident that drummer Ilya Stemkovsky is starting to gel with the rest of the band and it’s interesting to see the amazing potential that Brothers Past has. Stemkovsky’s e-drums lock up with bassist Clay Parnell and lay the foundation for keyboard player Tom McKee and guitarist Tom Hamilton to build on. The segue back into “Squeeze” roused the crowd and Hamilton propelled the energy as he soloed beautifully and all four members were zeroed in, on an all out electronic dance jam to close the set.
The second set made for a little more room as the heat weeded some people out, and soon enough, The Cure’s “Fascination Street” opened the second set. “Tired Sigh” weaved flawlessly into “Can You Keep A Secret?” which had Stemkovsky’s snares popping out while Parnell’s thumping bassline paired perfectly with McKee’s haunting keyboard work. The piercing “Words Like Weapons” had McKee take the lead vocals on the dark industrial tune. The show closed out with a stellar version of “The Ceiling” as Hamilton’s heavy reverb first drove the crowd but it was his flying solo that ended the show on a stellar note, with high hopes set for the next day.
After Umphrey’s McGee at the Vic, Brothers Past was poised for their second set on the 21st. The second set opened with “Getaway Somehow” which was dominated with Stemkovsky’s e-drums which climbed and shifted, dictating the pace so that McKee and Hamilton, on his laptop, laid some house synththesizers over it all. The e-drum loop slowly rolls into chaos and out of the smoke comes Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Hamilton nailed the vocals as the crowd sang and bounced along. A jam on “Year of The Horse” led into “Let’s Start A Gang.” The slow intro came as Hamilton and Parnell knelt churning the intro before another top notch vocal performance from Hamilton as the crowd screamed along. Parnell’s choppy basslines on “The Mirror” was a highlight early on, and McKee’s work on the piano made for a nice calming break. The final track off This Feeling’s Called Goodbye, “Everything Must Go,” is mix of outstanding songwriting and a catchy melodies. Soon enough, though, the jam transformed into a techno haven before McKee’s piano and Hamilton’s acoustic guitar intoduced the first section of “A Wonderful Day.” As Parnell lay on the ground tired, Stemkovsky and McKee sat back for a breather and Hamilton was alone playing at the forefront. After the first verse Hamilton grabbed his electric guitar back and Stemkovsky’s talent was evident as he nearly pounded straight though his kit slamming the tune to an end with Hamilton.
Brothers Past two nights in Chicago were productive ones, as new fans were converted and old fans were treated to four sets of danceable rock music.