MusicMarauders Presents: Brothers Past & Tiger Party 11.30.12

Cervantes Other Side
Denver, CO

Words By Brad Yeakel
Photos By Britt Nemeth

The weekend began with high hopes as I knew I'd be covering two bands from my home state of Pennsylvania. Friday at Cervantes Other Side, Brothers Past brought the livetronica fans out in full force. The club was elbow to elbow back to the lounge area in the rear. I arrived just as Tiger Party was taking the stage. Being billed with BP, I expected another electronica act, especially considering I've heard some of the members in other projects that lean on electronic. Seth Fankhauser, the drummer of Malah, kept a tight funk based groove going strong. Guitarist Ryan Burnett, from Signal Path, played series after series of mercurial riffs creating a morphing metallic timbre that was edgy, smooth, and sleek, like the bad guy from Terminator 2. The band is a collaboration of musicians in several other bands and keyboardist Blake appears to conduct the pieces, signaling for changes and leading many of the tunes. His energy was contagious as he bounced eagerly with the music. With my memories of Brothers Past shows of yesteryear, I debated if I may be having more fun with Tiger Party than I would with the main event... Especially once they brought Atomga's Leah up on sax. Her funky accents in the composed sections were as delightful as her smoking solo. This girl can really bring the whole thing together with the sultry sound of her Baritone Saxophone. As Tiger Party wrapped up, I was convinced this would not be the last time our paths would cross.

Brothers Past came out to a packed house ready to get down. They began with an indie band vibe as guitarist Tom Hamilton sang a song that sounded a little flat and without articulation. As I tried to make out the words, I wondered if the mix was causing the muddy vocals, but ultimately it didn't matter, as the band launched into my electronica expectations. The predictability was high, but their ability to communicate changes and execute dramatic pinpoint turns was impressive. I didn't remember the alternative/indie angle in my past experience with BP and while it provided for many of the unexpected points of the night, I felt like the predictable parts were more enjoyable. There is no question at all the musicians are beyond proficient, the guitarist continuously delivered a blizzard of notes in our own little snow globe. I waffled at this show. I went back and forth several times as some passages pulled me in and blew my doors off, while others were driven by one or two note repetitions I found to be generic and overdone. As a fan who tends to stay on the outskirts of electronica music, I wasn't sure if BP reminded me of everything else, or if everything else reminded me of BP. It's been quite a while since I had seen them and while some thing's have definitely changed, most of the show was exactly what I expected it to be. Tight rhythms with shades of drum and bass, house and other blends of electronica pervaded the majority of the night.

When I write about a band that I am not as familiar with, I try to isolate the element that makes them unique. With BP, it is the intricate guitar work of Tom Hamilton that had an almost Umphrey's McGee ferocity which relentlessly rode wave after wave of dance beats. It was also the indie leaning vocal breaks. As a cast of vocalists ran through my mind, my friend looked at me and said, "you hear Duritz in there?" Not only did I know what she meant, I had thought it an instant before she said it. It's a strange juxtaposition to put the lyrical parts of your song in an alternative framework from the exploratory style that dominates your sound. That's how it felt to me. It was like seeing a mediocre coffee shop performer one minute and a polished dj the next. The changes were impeccable, but there was no continuity to the themes or ideas. The continuity that did exist was in the electro dance portions, which were at times monotonous, but had an excellent flow. The indie-alternative interludes were disruptive in my humble opinion. This coming from someone who's number one complaint about electronica is the repetition. And yet, I still preferred their dance party to their alternative side. The times when I was reminded of STS9, Lotus, and the like, I was dancing in a sea of money-maker shakers. I even considered playing "air laptop" at one point. Their drummer, Rick Lowenberg was energetic, metronomic and adept at blending the electronic drums with a regular kit, making for a nearly constant dance party. I'd also say that when I liked what they were doing, I really liked it. The frenzy of guitar notes pioneered as the rest of the band laid the landscape resulting in a driven, methodical groove. When I'd start to think it was completely off the cuff, the entire band would change direction, usually for just a measure or two, before returning to the exploratory riffs.

In the end, I really did like Tiger Party better. It's not that BP aren't incredibly talented, its a personal preference... I like the funk beats more than the drum and bass, but it didn't stop the "nuts to butts" packed house from having a blast during BP's Denver visit.

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