Younger Brother, Terminal 5, New York City – 7/9
As far as musical collaborations go, Younger Brother Live Band is the cream of the crop. While the project was originally created as the collaboration between Shpongles Simon Posford, and Prometheus Benji Vaughan, two albums later the group has expanded significantly to include Marc Brownstein of the Disco Biscuits on bass, Tom Hamilton of Brothers Past on guitar, Joe Russo of the Duo on drums, and Ru Campbell on lead vocals.
With only a handful of live performances this year, I knew that I had to be in attendance for the groups brief July tour kickoff at New York Citys Terminal 5. I journeyed across town after the Umphreys McGee/Matisyahu Central Park Summer Stage Show and arrived in time to catch the end of Prometheus (Vaughan) opener set.
After a brief interlude following the Prometheus set, the full group meandered onto the stage. Now I couldnt exactly remember what the Younger Brother Live sound was like, but I assumed that combining the UK infused psychedelic madness of Vaughan and Posfords individual efforts augmented by Brownsteins uniquely cosmic bass playing and Hamiltons ability to shred the guitar within an electronic framework could only lead to a hardcore trance party.
However, as the lights dimmed and the group began their first song, I realized that the performance would not be exactly what Id expected. Rather than relying solely on the laptop or any of his other synthesizer gizmos, Posford allowed Vaughan to hold it down on the computer while he strapped on a guitar for the majority of their hour-long set.
In addition, Brownstein played with far more reserve than Im used to. While he is constantly driving the Biscuits into extraterrestrial peaks and valleys, he instead played notes very sparingly and took a backseat role to the other members of the ensemble.
While there was definitely a presence of inorganic, synthesized sounds, they were laid back and blended into the melodies rather than being at the forefront of every song.
Now this was far from a soft show as they continually dropped into rage mode (especially in what appears to be their hallmark song, I am a Freak) but no song ever ventured too far into space (or ran more than 6-7 minutes,) giving the whole performance a much more contained atmosphere than I had anticipated.
It appears that rather than creating an intense project where all their individual styles combine to form a trance leviathan, the members were instead pursuing a different goal that perhaps they couldnt achieve in their other work. But this was what was so cool about the whole show; that the members could stray from their stereotypical style, decide how the new groups dynamic would operate, and then embrace their role within the band with fluidity and grace. The performance was short but sweet, and if you ever get the chance to check them out, I highly recommend it.