Category Archives: 2020

Ground Up Music Festival 2020

Photography + Review by Geoff Clowes /Sage + Spirit Photo

The 4th annual iteration of the GroundUp Music Festival is now in the books. The festival, with an annual lineup of jam-based jazz and funk acts curated by three-day headliners Snarky Puppy was this year a gathering of the best of the best. Taking place at the North Beach Bandshell, the event runs counter to most festivals in that it is set in a small venue with a capacity of only a few thousand attendees. While small, the crowd is in no way less enthusiastic than at one of the giant festivals. 

The lineup for the 2020 GUMF was one of the most noteworthy, with acts including Snarky PuppyMichael McDonald, and Lettuce, alongside lesser known acts such as Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band and FORQ.

One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing Michael League, bandleader and bassist from Snarky Puppy sitting in on bass for so many other acts, including Michael McDonald’s set, that also featured the rhythm section and backing vocals from Snarky Puppy. Other highlights include Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band with their Miles Davis sound and Banda Magda performing a set of Greek tinged jazz, and the uban Jazz of Yissy Garcia & Bandancha.

The GroundUp Music Festival is one of the most important music festivals in South Florida and certainly one of the best small festivals in the jazz/funk world. This year was no exception, as the festival was awash in warm breezes and sunshine other than Saturday night – which was awsh in gale force winds and rain. But hey, it’s South Florida after all, what do you expect?

News: Inaugural Day In The Vines Concert Series Lineup Announced in Texas

C3 Presents and CRS have just announced the Inaugural A Day In The Vines concert series to take place May 9 and 10 at Spicewood Vineyards in Texas. This Mother’s Day weekend celebration was inspired by New Zealand’s Winery Tour and will benefit Kids in a New Groove, with a portion of proceeds benefitting the nonprofit.

With the popularity of similar festivals such as Bottlerock in Napa Valley, this brand new concert series fills a big niche in Texas and highlights the diversity and beauty of our very own wine region. With headliners The Revivalists and Norah Jones, incredible food and wine, plus a diverse roster of all-ages activities, this is a Mothers-day bash that all can enjoy.

Must-see or Meh? Vote below!!

⭐⭐

Meh (1) – – – – > Must-See (5)

Let us know your thoughts – is this a must-see or a meh? Vote above!

Show Review: Black Sunday Blowout with Maryann Cotton, Black Smoke Sinners and Black Heart Saints

Review & Photography: Kail Rose

Motorcycles and their admirers line up outside under the sodium vapor street lights, glittering in a dizzying assemblage of chrome, cigarette smoke and black leather. I can hear fading remnants of the last riff of soundcheck as security hands back my ID, swipes a black cat stamp over my hand and ushers me through the ominous dark-paneled gates off seventh street. I grab a Lonestar and survey the scene at Empire Control Room & Garage – this evening it’s bustling. It’s not one for the faint of heart. Beer and cigarettes, leather and silver, low-cut, hi-crop and tight everything; big hair, loud makeup and heavy Doc Martens. There’s a little old-school glam rock here mixed with grunge and biker culture, collecting to celebrate rock music of a classic era on Black Sunday. Tomorrow is a holiday, so there are no holds barred tonight.

I love the rock crowd – their big energy, and their raucously over-enthusiastic passion for the music and the community they’ve built around it. I greet friends and acquaintances; most offer a warm hug and witty, excited banter. We’re all here to celebrate what’s become an underground Austin movement – led largely by the very man who invited me here, Robert Wagner. Texan rock legend and son of Dick Wagner (who needs no introduction), Robert is doing big things to reinvigorate this cult classic rock community, right here in our own town.

As I ready my camera gear and chat with fans in the front row, we’re hit with the fuzzy opening riff of a sound that’s not entirely foreign. It’s so familiar, I’m halted mid-conversation. Maryann Cotton slides on stage with the self-assured swagger of a man opening on a much larger stage. Immediately, the presence and prowess of a rock artist who is destined for very big places becomes overwhelmingly obvious. Clad in skintight patent leather, buckles, chains, black eyeliner, fantastically big hair and a snarl that’s as gritty as it is sexy, he launches into his set. It’s dramatic, glamorous and oh-so-delicious to watch. I hear some Alice Cooper, a young KISS maybe, a little Motley Crue in there. Reminiscent of so many favorites, the crowd rocks as hard as the band. This is a production of truly excellent caliber. I catch myself thinking once again: we needed someone like this on the scene, and these guys are destined for big places. Maryann Cotton has ties to the Wagner family as well as a nod from Alice Cooper himself. With a varied discography released to date, their sound is a brilliant homage to the glam rock of the late 70s and 80s. The set is high-energy: it’s dirty, sexy, gritty and sweaty and leaves me wishing I could transport myself back forty years to see glam rock in its heyday. But who needs that when we’ve got Maryann Cotton?

Sir Robert Wagner is next on the evening’s lineup; his new band Black Smoke Sinners launches into a setlist heavy on covers. This is a band with a unique take on both their music and a lifestyle, priding themselves on being “lifetime riders but also lifetime musicians.” Forged from lifelong friendships, this crew wants to “bring the true ‘Rock Show’ Experience back to the National rally scene.” The roster includes Robert Wagner on vocals, Austin favorite Jake Sherard on guitar/vocals, Dave Beeson on guitar/vocals, biker and builder Chris Callen on bass, and builder and acclaimed drummer of Buckcherry fame, Xavier Muriel. As he always does, Wagner grooves, moves and schmoozes his brilliant self into our hearts and it’s an hour that passes in a second. Backed by musicians of such magnitude and passion, this little quintet has big plans and an even bigger future as they bring rock back to the rally world. 

Questioning whether we could top the energy and spectacle of our first two bands, we’re treated to a third set that blows us out of the water. Revving up for their first official SXSW showcase, Austin favorites Black Heart Saints hit the stage as our headliner. It’s immediately clear that their momentum is on an upswing. It’s an explosive set, beginning with a handful of cherished favorites from existing discography. They follow with some newer tunes, no less than flawless, before dropping into a couple of cover songs. When the opening grooves of Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song bombard my eardrums, these Saints hit a whole new level: this ain’t just another mediocre cover of a cult classic. Frontman Josh Ross hits those high notes just right; he’s a triple threat with powerful vocals, an inimitable stage presence and enough strut and substance to make Sir Robert Plant himself proud. Once again, Black Heart Saints harness a certain something about their music that’s rarely imitated. When we interviewed them almost exactly a year ago, we predicted a meteoric rise as one of the nation’s top emerging rock acts. Now on the precipice of a major SX set, we’ll be sitting smugly in the sidelines watching them take over the rock world.

What an evening. As always, the Austin rock scene brings us an evening of ineffable energy. From the sexy, gritty Maryann Cotton to the unbridled revelry of rock/rally heavyweights Black Smoke Sinners – or the dangerous, dirty and delicious Black Heart Saints – what a way to wrap a Sunday. 2020’s take on Black Sunday, that is. 

News: Virgin Fest Announces Inaugural 2020 Lineup

Virgin Fest has just released the lineup for their much-anticipated 2020 inaugural event. Held in Los Angeles June 6 and 7th at Banc of California Stadium and Exposition Park, it seems to fit nicely into a festival niche that’s gone unserved in the LA area for far too long. With a killer lineup featuring Lizzo, A$AP Rocky, Anderson Paak, Major Lazer and Ellie Goulding, the magnitude of the music is just one aspect of what’s certainly to become a killer annual festival.

With a commitment to sustainability, cutting-edge technology, innovation and inclusivity, the folks behind Virgin Fest are not cutting corners. The site was selected for ease-of-access via public transportation – directly combatting issues with access, traffic and parking. They’re handpicking vendors for their commitment to sustainability and they’re trying out a deposit-based reusable cup system to do away with single-use plastic cups. And they’ve selected a site with plenty of shade, seating and amenities.

But this comes as no surprise, really. Virgin Fest Co-founder and CEO Jason Felts is a veritable veteran of the festival world. He’s one of the few behind the smashing success of KAABOO festivals (Del Mar, Cayman Islands, Dallas and now San Diego for 2020) in previous years, and if these ultra-luxury, no-holds-barred festivals are any indication, we’re in for a big treat. “With a focus purely on people and planet, I am proud to launch a first of its kind music and tech experience built upon a foundation of positivity, equality and unmatched hospitality,“ says Felts.

As for the lineup itself? We couldn’t be more pleased. Did we honestly expect anything less?? No, not at all. We can’t wait. Grab your passes here and we’ll see you in June.

Must-see or Meh? Vote below!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Meh (1) – – – – > Must-See (5)

Let us know your thoughts – is this a must-see or a meh? Vote above!

NEWS: Foo Fighters Announce 25th Anniversary Van Tour

Foo Fighters have just announced a 25th Anniversary “Van Tour” commemorating what seems like so much more than 25 years …of rocking our socks off. Starting in Phoenix, AZ, they’ll be visiting the cities that they first visited back in 1995 – maybe not quite the same small venues as in the 90’s, but still a touching homage to their humble roots. They’re also stopping by Boston Calling, Something In The Water and New Orleans Jazz Fest this year.

ARE YOU READY??? Join the Foos in commemorating their 25th anniversary by revisiting stops along their 1995 tour! IN THE ROUND! 🤘 -FF

Tickets are on sale now – grab yours HERE. Scroll down to see the full tour schedule.

Must-see or Meh? Vote below!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Meh (1) – – – – > Must-See (5)

Foo Fighters 2020 Van Tour Dates

April 12 — Phoenix, Ariz. @ Talking Stick Resort Arena
April 14 — Albuquerque, N.M. @ Santa Ana Star Center
April 16 — Oklahoma City, Okla. @ Chesapeake Energy Arena
April 18 — Wichita, Kan. @ INTRUST Bank Arena
April 20 — Knoxville, Tenn. @ Thompson-Boling Arena
May 10 — Green Bay, Wis. @ Resch Center
May 12 — Grand Rapids, Mich. @ Van Andel Arena
May 14 — Cincinnati, Ohio @ Heritage Bank Center
May 18 — Cleveland, Ohio @ Rocket Mortgage Arena
May 20 — Hamilton, Ontario @ FirstOntario Centre

Tortuga Music festival: The must-see florida fest of 2020.

The annual Tortuga Music festival returns to Fort Lauderdale Beach Park for 2020, boasting a can’t-miss lineup of country, rock and roots music. Featuring headliners Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan and Tim McGraw on April 17-19, it offers three days, multiple stages and a lot more than just heavy-hitters Pitbull, Barenaked Ladies and Vanilla Ice stopping by to keep the party going.

Held on the beach itself, Tortuga combines a feel-good-vibe with a mission to give back, raising awareness and money for marine conservation. Partnering with Rock The Ocean Foundation, they’ve successfully raised over $2,000,000; given back to Conservation Village partners as a direct result of ticket sales and donations. They’re also aiming to increase public awareness about the issues impacting the world’s oceans and to support scientific research, education, and ocean conservation initiatives.

If that’s not a reason to grab your tickets and head to the white sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, I don’t know what is.

Must-see or Meh? Vote below!!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Meh (1) – – – – > Must-See (5)

Let us know your thoughts – is this a must-see or a meh? Vote above!

Interview + Show review: Varya

Photography, interview & review by Jonathan Orenstein.

Set up in a small corner of a south Austin popular Greek hangout, Opa!, VARYA adjusts her mic stand, amplifier, and tunes her lyric-adorned acoustic guitar. Her husband and a complete stranger fuss with a string of fairy lights at her feet in an attempt to bring some light to her face. The photographer suggested that more light will enhance the photos and eliminate the dark shadows under her brow. “I can’t deal with this right now, I’m really nervous,” VARYA cries to her uninvited stage crew as she waves them off. I walk back to the bar with her husband discussing lighting issues that these small venues create but I would capture her with my camera none-the-less. The house is full this night, a table of Russian-speaking men clap vigorously as she thanks the crowd for coming out. A table with a dozen or so couples sits nearby, her invited posse, and they erupt into applause.

VARYA steels herself, organizing her thoughts, going over her play her set silently. She’s been performing for over a decade in small venues like this, each show gives her butterflies. VARYA describes herself as strong, sensitive, and loud – these traits give her the strength to perform. Her husband and sister modify her self-identifying personality with outgoing, impulsive, and stubborn. Regardless of which are the correct modifiers, there is something about VARYA with which everyone in her presence can connect.

She tunes her dark-wood guitar and the overhead lights shimmer across poetic phrases scrawled around the guitar’s face. Her soft melodic voice turns heads as an almost Gaelic sound echoes throughout the space. The songs are dark, emotional, and raw, but her emotive expressions draw you in, connecting with her as if she was a longtime friend. Over the next hour, VARYA connects with the audience much like a storyteller engrosses a crowd during a book reading. Page after page of lyrics share thoughts about struggle of love, fear, and togetherness. The small table of men sing along with her to sad tunes of loves lost, like close-knit friends (Russian: drougs) in a local pub.

VARYA focuses her music on telling stories rather than appease to a pop listening crowd. Growing up in Moldova, a small Balkan region country nestled between Romania and Ukraine, VARYA was immersed in local storytelling and music. Her mother and she sang children’s songs together, and her father, known for his poetic verse, wrote her a song that they performed together during some of his concerts. Her native country has a very long and beautiful musical history, where most of the population speaks the Romanian romance language. Moldova existed long before the U.S.S.R. and has very much reclaimed its culture since the breakup of the Soviet republic. There is a deep tradition of Bard music in her country, considered much less of a music genre but rather a lifestyle. VARYA calls it “poetry delivered through the medium of music.”

Poet-songwriters known as romance bards, mostly students of the physical sciences and history, brought this far reaching global musical attitude to the Soviet bloc countries in the early 1950s. The bard style was common in the Baltic region long before it grew in popularity under Soviet rule. The common man and woman would compose romantic lyrics that enshrined the beauty of life, gathering like souls together in harmony and joy. At first this was an underground movement that helped Soviet citizens cope with governmental oppression under Stalin and following the easing of controls under Khrushchev and Brezhnev, Bard music became the naturalists’ music. Bards performed their own songs, and as they were not classically trained musicians, linguists, or lyricists, their poetry was played to simple chord progressions. These songs were sung for pleasure and not for monetary gain. This brought bard music to the young people who enjoyed camping, kayaking, and outdoor adventures. Songs may be political in nature at times, but mainly romantic and family-based themes were the norm. Russian bard music is akin to American folk music, although not commercialized.

VARYA’s family and neighbors wrote original songs, played instruments and performed at small concerts and festivals. “Nobody was particularly good, at least not in a commercial way, but it’s incredibly intimate and honest and raw.”

READ MORE…

Published by Jonathan Orenstein

My focus is on highlighting the great programs that support the community, local musicians, and those in need. I am an Austin-based photographer with experience shooting at the Long Center, various music venues, as well as high school theater performances. My clients include the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, Greater Austin High School Musical Theater Awards, and Rock to Recovery. I welcome the opportunity to work for you. View more posts

G(irl)photographer: 5 Shoots / 5 days

I open my inbox to an intriguing message. 

And that’s how it started. Well twist my arm, then… I thought. My team has a special way of being a little ridiculous on the story pitches, but I was sold. What I didn’t realize? It would also entail an intricate schedule of work, travel, shooting, editing, maybe a little sleep (and I mean little, less than little) and getting up and doing it all over again, day after day. I was exhausted just thinking about it.

👆 actually me after the week…

So it was an ambitious five-day quest to shoot five different concerts, test out some video and photo gear, and write a story about it. Cool. What I wanted to cover was almost entirely up to me. First up, Monday evening would be a local Austin band at a favorite local venue (Come And Take It Live), no less. Following that, my friend Danny (also known as New York rocker Des Rocs) just so happened to be touring through Texas for three consecutive days with The Glorious Sons. A quick text, fingers crossed, and he graciously agreed to let me follow him around with a camera. Four out of my five nights booked, I had just Friday to fill. I looked around and realized I’d been sent a media invite for an intriguing up-and-coming indie band called Brother Moses. Email sent, invite accepted, interview, shoot and review arranged; the week was booked. Mission Accomplished.

Days running up to my 5S/5D (that’s “5 Shoots / 5 Days”), I packed, planned, wrote and reviewed shot lists, met with my assistant photog, scheduled interviews, social and BTS content and tried to rest and prepare myself. One of the biggest challenges of shooting concerts is the extreme physicality of it all. You don’t realize how taxing it is to lug around all that gear for hours on end, and then contort and ‘gimbal’ yourself to manage the perfect shot. Over and over. Five days of that without a break would be interesting. I doubled down on my Pilates the week prior.

Early in the week I headed up to Precision Camera to pick up my gear from the rentals department: a gorgeous new Sony Alpha a9 camera body, an extra-beautiful G-Series f2.8 28-70mm lens (can you tell I have a thing for Sony gear?), a DJI Ronin-S gimbal and all the fixin’s. Because Precision never leaves you high and dry, they literally handed me everything plus the kitchen sink, a UV filter, camera bags, straps, clips, cords and an extra battery grip.

Now I have quite a storied past with camera rentals and I’m known to grab a few extra items when the shoot merits. I’ve had some downright terrible experience with rental gear that is shipped, or ordered online and picked up, only to discover that it’s not what you were hoping for (won’t name names). What I really love about Precision rentals is that they’re A) reliable, super reasonable, and they literally make sure you’ve got more than you need, but also; B) it’s really easy to just cruise up to Anderson Lane and grab what you need, rather than dealing with shipping costs, delivery times and all that junk. Plus they greet you with a smile and a hug. Or maybe it’s secretly an; “Oh, HER again? What crazy sh*t is she asking for this time??”

Read: Why would you rent online when all of this is available right in your very own city?? Also, they’re really very nice and just laugh when I propose the crazy sh*t. Anyways, I grabbed my gear early in the week, thanked my lucky stars that PCV had my back, and headed to Monday’s shoot, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.  I was totally ‘ballin with all that gear. I won’t bore you with the play-by-play on every single shoot, so here’s a highlight reel.

Monday: Gimble video fun at my local Austin haunt, Come And Take It Live. My priority act had to cancel due to the Death Flu going around (OK with me, keep your germs away!), so I had to make do with shooting less familiar bands. You win some, you lose some. 

Tuesday: Already sore and tired. Met up with Des Rocs and team, Warehouse Live Houston. Great crowd, lovely venue, high-energy set and a nice crew. Started getting creative with the gimbal, proceeded to wow, awe and inspire said crew with my gimbaling prowess (is that even a word?). I don’t know. It was fun. My arms were toast after two days of gimbaling. And yes, it’s now a word. 

Wednesday: Could barely lift my arms. Bruises appearing in weird places from unknown sources. Another favorite venue: Mohawk Austin, where I learned the true value of this a9 facial recognition technology in a packed crowd with no photo pit during both Des Rocs and The Glorious Sons’ sets. I nailed some crazy shots in ridiculously low light while getting jostled around, elbowed in the head and my toes stomped on somewhere in the rowdy crowd. Thanks to that a9 and my hefty f2.8 70-200mm telephoto lens, which a crew member later dubbed “The Bazooka,” I got some amazing content. Also, Bazooka? That’s gonna stick.

Thursday: Overslept my alarm. More bruises, but at least I know where they came from. Canton Hall Dallas with the Des Rocs crew once again. A new venue for me, but surprisingly nice and with excellent lighting. Due to the (larger) size of the venue, I managed some pretty awesome shots while hopping between a tightly-packed backstage area, the far-off upper back balcony, and a spacious, sizeable photo pit. It’s times like this that I am grateful for two different camera bodies set up and ready to go – allowing me to alternate seamlessly between my Sony a7iii with the 28-70mm lens and the a9 with aforementioned Bazooka, taking my photographic flexibility to new heights. If you’ve never tried shooting with two camera bodies, I highly recommend it (go visit Precision Camera rentals and they’ll help you with that). Bonus? Only once did I *almost* faceplant on stage. Unfortunately, Precision Camera cannot help me on the klutz factor. 

(Not pictured: Bazooka.) And yes, I found a ‘rat’ in the green room.

Friday: My fifth and final evening, spent at Stubbs Austin with indie rock band Brother Moses. Somehow I catch a second wind, super stoked to meet this last band. We started our evening with a video interview backstage, and followed with a classic show shoot-and-review setup. This time, I was thankful for my wide angle (f2.8 16-35mm G-series) lens, helping me to grab a few close-to-the-stage shots in low light. Anyone who’s ever shot at Stubbs indoors knows just how challenging it is. Only great gear, too-high ISO and creativity can get you through it.

What a beautiful week. While I did sacrifice sleep for adventure, it was worth it. I’d trade a week of no sleep, constant shooting, way too many bruises/sore feet/pulled muscles, and never having a second to catch up on much of anything for this thing called ‘real life’ in a heartbeat. So much fun. From testing out my abilities with new/novel camera gear, to having an opportunity to get to know the crew of one of my favorite touring bands. It was a nonstop, jam-packed week of incredible photo opportunities, a lot of travel, crazy crowds and insanely good music. I walked out of there more appreciative of these artists – and what goes into making a tour happen – than when I’d started. 

A special thank you to the Des Rocs crew – you are all incredible, kind, talented and passionate professionals. I appreciate you generously welcoming me into your space. You kept it fun, but you also taught me a lot about what it means to be a hard-working travelling professional. I’ve never met a more dedicated and talented crew. And if you are reading this and have never listened to Des Rocs before, stop immediately and GO LISTEN.  I mean it. If we cross paths in the future and you haven’t listened to his music yet, I will hereby wrestle you to the floor, throw a pair of headphones on you and press play. It’s your choice.

A final thank you must go to Precision Camera for the gear. I do hope you stop over there when you next need some extra items. And do try out running with a second camera body – it will save you a lot of time and lens changes. Tell ‘em Kail sent you… because that’ll make for an interesting conversation.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go catch up on some sleep. Stay tuned next week for my second blog and feature on the video/photo content I captured during my 5S/5D.

News: Forecastle Music Festival 2020 Lineup Released

Forecastle Music Festival has just released their 2020 lineup for the July 17-19 festival held in Louisville, KY. Known for a mixed-genre annual blowout that incorporates elements of music, art and activism, this year’s festival lineup has been met with mixed reviews.

While we love the mix of genres; from rock and hip-hop to blues and electronic, the secret to this particular festival is in the small print. Artists such as Caroline Rose, Illiterate Light, LP, Elohim and Soccer Mommy are almost hidden. Yet these will truly be can’t-miss acts that change the whole lineup.

Must-see or Meh? Vote below!!

⭐⭐⭐

Meh (1) – – – – > Must-See (5)

Our pick for most-underrated artist on the lineup?

Hands-down, LP. This human possesses vocals of an otherworldly quality and puts on a hell of a show. We’d go to Forecastle just for LP.

Let us know your thoughts – is this a must-see or a meh? Vote above!

Brother Moses in Austin: Show Review + interview

Story: Kail Rose, Photography: Christopher De La Rosa & K Rose

On Friday we had the privilege of catching NYC indie rock band Brother Moses live at Stubbs Austin, the first stop on their headlining tour for the month of February. 

We show up early in the evening, cruising through the still-empty Stubbs downstairs venue. Out back, there’s a crew playing football in the vast expanse of the Stubbs amphitheater yard, which I’m used to seeing jam-packed full of people. I quickly realize it’s the band themselves and their opener Feeves. They see us and head straight over to introduce themselves; James, John-Lewis, Moses and Corey, who comes with his own tagline: “the Best Drummer in the World.” 

We take over the spacious back garden’s notorious Airstream trailer for a quick informal video interview. We chat about humble beginnings, dance-fueled performances and how they are addressing real-world experiences with music that is fun and lighthearted. I later realize it’s the type of music that brings us together in a celebration of being humble, human, flawed and flawless. 

We skip upstairs to grab a quick bite of legendary Stubbs Barbecue before Feeves warms up the crowd with a fresh indie set. The evening crowd fills in quickly. It’s a predominantly younger group; college kids and those in their later 20s. A few hip couples in denim, slouchy beanies and vintage boots, sipping a craft beer. We spot many a girl gang, locked elbows, giggling and ready to dance. 

As Brother Moses takes the stage, the hype is very real. The venue and the crowd are literally buzzing. These people are here to boogie. As they kick off the set, it’s apparent that there will be no rockstar power poses, no slamming back a beer with a side of ego; no, none of that. Their humble and relatable demeanor makes this an inclusive performance. We’re not just here to see this band, but to become a part of their performance. With palpable energy, we unwittingly find ourselves committed – committed to celebrating our quirks and crazies, and to dance like nobody’s watching. 

After more than one occasion of a show-stopping technical issue, frontman James exclaims; “this is just like that time you have that nightmare where you go on stage and you’re in your underwear and all your stuff starts breaking… except this is real life.” Turning misfortune into humor, it’s an opportunity to connect with the audience, make them part of the show. I almost wonder if this was rehearsed. But the audience is game; hooting & hollering when finally Feeves brings us a backup guitar and saves the show. 

They progress through old hits and new material, somehow amplifying the energy as they go. Two blonde college girls slam back their White Claws, sling their tiny purses over their shoulder and barrel through the crowd in an impressively dainty fashion for What Does It Take. Blonde locks are flying as they dance and spin each other. The crowd parts to circle around this informal dance-off. Guitarists John-Lewis and Moses jump down into the crowd, in between twirling girls, for the song finale. Carefree is the word of the night.

And somehow Brother Moses manages a very full sound – a set of surprisingly intricate, groovy, quirky songs. John-Lewis and James trade off on the keyboard and guitar. With signature floppy hair and wireframe glasses doing nothing to conceal a cheeky sparkle of confidence (likely from his most excellent dance moves, if I must be honest…), James leads the vocals with quirk, kitsch and utter coolness. I see why this crowd had arrived with soaring expectations and impressive energy. And despite all expectations, this is a band that sounds even better live than recorded. 

I highly recommend you catch their live show, and grab their music here. Check out their remaining February tour stops and keep an eye out on March 6 to catch the release of Desperation Pop.