Brothers Past is a maelstrom of sounds and feelings. If you seek proof then pop in A Wonderful DayElements‚ or This Feeling's Called Goodbye‚ three albums that'll show you the true brilliance of Tom Hamilton‚ Clay Parnell‚ Tom McKee and Rick Lowenberg. These four have found a way to seamlessly create a dark environment of sound that can make you think all while moving you and your friends on the dance floor.
I set out for the show that Friday morning with great excitement‚ having not seen the band with Rick since early 2006. (Brothers Past had a brief run with drummer Ilya Stemkovsky after Rick's departure‚ but it became apparent that no matter how talented the four musicians are onstage together‚ you can't replace history and chemistry.) I missed going to see these guys perform together‚ and I was getting a taste of it‚ again‚ finally. Their shows in 2009 (a reunion on New Year's Eve‚ a Phish after party‚ a late-night show in Colorado‚ and one at the School of Rock in Downington P.A.) had me in strong anticipation.
It felt marvelous to see the four take the stage at the Middle East. The excitement about being back radiated from Rick‚ and it showed in his playing. The "Dead Clowns" opener was a solid standalone‚ setting the no-nonsense tone for the night. The next segment‚ "Big Blue Apples" > "Can You Keep a Secret" > "Getaway Somehow" > "Let's Start a Gang" > "Catharsis‚" had definite moments of fire to it‚ especially "Secrets" and the heated dance party that is "Gangs." When I spoke to a friend about how good it sounded‚ he replied‚ "What did you expect?"
McKee's "What's On Your Mind" opened the second set and led into "Everything Must Go" (where Clay and Tommy were feeding off of each other like animals). The "Bottlecap" that followed was the heavy hitter of the night‚ played with the ferociousness that dark‚ fantastic dreams are made of. This was continued in the emotional "Words Like Weapons" jam into "Squeeze" (a song that evokes triumphant feelings up and down your spine). Clay's low tone bass lines shook us all and Hamilton's super clean guitar spiraled throughout the night. Add Rick's inhuman break beats and McKee's hypnotic keys playing‚ they were prepared to really blast away at the crowd.
The long and short of it is this: These four men had fun that night. The crowd fed off of them‚ and they fed off of the crowd. From what I have gathered‚ every show they are increasingly playing tighter and tighter‚ and at this rate the stage will start spinning and they will ultimately unlock the key to time travel.
After the show‚ Hamilton had this to say about what it's like playing with Rick again: "I gotta say that it feels great to be playing with BP again. After Rick left we definitely lost our way a bit and by taking last year off I think we learned quite a bit about who we are as individuals and who Brothers Past is as a band. First and foremost being that Brothers Past is Tom‚ Tommy‚ Clay‚ and Rick. It was the best thing we could have done for ourselves‚ ya know? We were able to do other things artistically and let time heal some relationships within the band. Now we're firing on all cylinders and on the same page."
The band will be playing one or two shows a month sporadically for now‚ and they've been recording quite a bit in the past couple months. They will see how it goes‚ and an album release would mean a possible tour to promote it‚ so stay tuned.
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