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Review: JEFF the Brotherhood, Bully, Broncho, Sunflower Bean

Jake | JEFF the Brotherhood

Jake | JEFF the Brotherhood

Last night, JEFF the Brotherhood, Bully, Broncho and Sunflower Bean gave Phoenix a little bit of Nashville, Oklahoma and New York, and a whole lot of rock ‘n’ roll.

The show, at Crescent Ballroom, started promptly at 8 P.M. with a performance by Brooklyn trio Sunflower Bean. Powered by Red Bull, the young musicians played a set of neo-psychedelia songs from their Show Me Your Seven Secrets EP, released in January.


Sunflower Bean

Like an audience charmer, the band had listeners rapidly nodding like bobbleheads in one moment and in the next, slowing swaying as if maneuvering themselves into the deep grooves of the heavy rock. Listen to “Tame Impala,” one of my favorites from last night’s performance, and you’ll understand.

Next up was Broncho. The three piece from Oklahoma was joined by the members of the shoegaze-dream rock pair Low Litas, also from Oklahoma. Broncho’s performance was lively and likable, not surprising from a band that makes infectious pop-punk, garage rock music. Lead Ryan Lindsey and Mandi Larsen (of Low Litas) were particularly fun to watch. Lindsey has a weirdly enticing stage presence —  chewing gum, bouncing around the stage during his vox breaks, and scanning the audience through his sweat-drenched hair. When he looks at you,  it feels like he’s looking through you. On stage, Lindsey moves as if his music is his puppeteer and it’s interesting to watch.



Then there was Bully. After the first two bands said no more than a few sentences to the audience and didn’t waste time between songs, people weren’t expecting much interaction. It was a quiet bunch of concertgoers, until Bully’s leading lady Alicia Bognanno came on stage. She coaxed them out of their shyness and by the end of the set, people in the audience were, rightfully, professing their love for the band — “I fucking love Bully from Nashville, they’re the best,” yelled one fan.

Bully played a set comprised of songs from its self-titled EP, which was released in October 2014. Bognanno seemed confident and cool on stage. Between songs she casually told the audience about how the bleachers in the Ballroom made her feel like she was in a gym, that her sister attended school in Arizona and her grandma also lives in the state. Seconds later, she’d be transfixed in a grungy rock track steered by her big voice. He presence demands attention and the band’s solid, no-frills performance lingered with me. Keep an ear on Buly, especially once its debut full-length comes out later this year. It was mixed and co-engineered at Steve Albini‘s Electric Audio, where Bognanno was once just an intern learning the ropes.

JEFF the Brotherhood played last. I thought the mood was set with dim red lighting, fog, and a sexual JTB backdrop, but then brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall and their two backing bandmates walked on stage while Chris de Burgh‘s “Lady in Red” played overhead…and this wasn’t even the climax of the night.


Jamin | JEFF the Brotherhood

There are so many things about this set worth mentioning — from the pattern clashing of Jake’s outfit to the cursing-like-a-sailor crowd to the front-row fan. One guy in particular, who I’ve deemed the front-row fan, spent most of the night playing air guitar and boozing. Probably to prepare for the heading act. During JTB’s set, he would jump on stage and throw his arms in the air, as if celebrating a victory. He’d take a long look into the audience, crouch a little bit, and then fall forward into the 21+ audience, which didn’t have the capacity or charisma to support his crowd-surfing goals. He was completely oblivious, or unconcerned, by the less-than-perfect surf conditions and repeated this ballsy act at least six times. His efforts did not go unnoticed. After the first surf, Jamin smiled and pointed at the guy with both hands, a well done point of approval. But front-row fan wasn’t the only one feeding off JTB’s vibe. Even the guy who approximated he’d know of the band for “72 hours” before the show got wrapped up in the performance. We all did.

This wasn’t the first time I’d seen JEFF live, but it was the best. The band felt more confident and alluring than I’d ever seen them, as if their new album, Wasted on the Dream, was a rebirth. Maybe that’s why the front-row fan kept yelling “Phoenix.” Maybe he was calling them out on their uprising. JTB did say in a press release, which announced its split from a major label, that it’d been “dropped from the clutches of the demented vulture that is Warner Bros! We feel as though a heavy weight has been lifted from our shoulders and could not be more excited.”

The positive change in the band was evident and made it all the more exciting to see the musicians perform tracks from Dig the Classics EP (“Totally Confused“);We Are the Champions (“Hey Friend,” “Shredder” and “Mellow Out“); Heavy Days (“Heavy Krishna, “Intro (Love Explosion)“); Hypnotic Nights (“Hypnotic Mind” and “Staring at the Wall“); and Wasted on the Dream (“Black Cherry Pie,” “Voyage Into Dream,” “Melting Place” and “Cosmic Visions“). JTB even played a cover of Neil Young‘s “Cinnamon Girl.”

In short, the show was great.

One Comment

  1. The show was great! My only complaint was that the vocals for the opening bands- all 3- were horrible. Luckily, When JTB came on, the problem was corrected as they put on a stellar performance. I can’t believe they could only attract what little crowd there was though – 100 total? If this was the 1990s,they would be superstars.

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