JEFF the Brotherhood, North Dakota, Wooden Indian
Thursday, May 17
The three bands on stage at Rhythm Room didn't sound very much alike -- and that's a good thing. It was a treat to see three distinct bands perfectly execute their respective sounds at last night's JEFF the Brotherhood gig.
Locals Wooden Indian opened the show, and even though the piles of instruments on stage looked haphazard and the band has a penchant for blissfully open-ended structures, their dynamics were tightly controlled and their jams reined in before overstaying their welcome. It seemed every member took singing duties or operated a floor tom at some point (as there were three available), forging the buttoned-up indie rock composition of Department of Eagles with guttural Animal Collective vocals.
Though each member of Tempe three-piece North Dakota sings and the band is front-loaded with the vocal talent of Michelle Blades (who also performs as a solo act), they lean even harder on shuffled backbeats, distorted guitar bursts, and Casio organ swells. Their three-part harmonies, group chants, and momentary shrieks were utilized only occasionally, creating an impressionistic take on the dance-floor attitude of Delta 5 and the staccato-pop contortions of Devo.
JEFF the Brotherhood also were on point, honing their mega-distorted guitar and booming mid-tempo drums into a boiled-down Zeppelin/Stooges concentrate. The crowd bopped along to the band (freshly signed to Warner Brothers Records) from We Are the Champions; one girl succeeded in momentarily crowd surfing. The brothers played a new song called "Six Pack," which resembled a variation on the dreamy guitar line from the Smashing Pumpkins' "Perfect," before turning into their familiar brand of garage-psych stew.
Everything about their performance, from the guys' casually inviting demeanor to their occasional dips into the crowd, felt like a distillation of rock's best elements with any dumb posturing removed, like it could have actually happened in a garage. Jamin Orrall played a translucent drumset and his brother Jake played a clear-bodied guitar (with only three low strings). Their lighting scheme, which proved very effective, was a single flood light behind the kit. It's like the duo are leading research to concoct the most erudite, aerodynamic rock machine possible. If last night was any indication, the prototype is very close to maximum consumer-grade portability.
Last night: JEFF the Brotherhood, North Dakota, and Wooden Indian at Rhythm Room
Major display of dedication: Under-age attendees Gabe and Matt were nice enough to light my cigarette and also somehow made the drive from Chandler without using the freeway. Props are in order.