Big Business started the night at the Trocadero Theatre with their brand of abrasive rock. Coady Willis’s drumming was incredible. He seemed to be constantly playing fills and his hands were a perpetual blur. What hurt the band’s set was Jared Warren’s bass tone, which was so muddled his changes were almost indistinguishable.
The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower was up next. They took the stage clad in matching black jackets with red armbands and launched into their spastic, disjointed style of punk. Frontman Brandon Welchez was part Dennis Lyxzén, part Mick Jagger as he pranced around on stage in his sultry and twisted manner. Over the course of the set he jerked off his microphone, spit high into the air and caught it in his mouth, and crawled around on the stage like he had just been brutally beaten. His saxophone playing added an interesting twist, but at points just sounded strange and out of place. The rest of the band were also energetic and over the top in their performance. It was great to see guitarist Chuck Rowell’s “the show must go on” attitude when one end of his strap fell off and he continued to not only play, but also rock out, without it. Morgan Henderson from the Blood Brothers joined the band on one song playing a mini-melodica wind piano. Again, like Big Business, there were some sound problems. The bass and drums were clear, but the guitar and vocals provided more screechy noise than anything else. Ultimately, the band’s set was short but entertaining to watch.
The crowd at the Troc had been pretty calm all night. There were a couple small pits during The Plot To Blow Up The Eiffel Tower, but they never lasted too long. This all changed when the Blood Brothers took the stage and launched into “Beautiful Horses.” The crowd suddenly became a giant teeming mass of shoving and dancing, raised fists and shouted lyrics.
The Blood Brothers put on an amazing show full of sassy grooves and hardcore madness. Johnny Whitney and Jordan Billie criscrossed the stage with seizure-like antics and were able to nail all those shrieks that seem too high-pitched to be human. The two vocalists took the sexual energy of classic performers like David Bowie and mixed it with the passion of hardcore. Cody Votolato and Morgan Henderson also danced their asses off, going back and forth between aggressive spasms and the fancy footwork of Omar Rodriguez-Lopez.
The Blood Brothers songs may be complex combinations of seemingly disparate parts, but live they managed to be tight through all of the shifts and changes. They also added little flourishes and variances to their songs. Votolato changed some of his guitar parts a bit, while Henderson added extra bangs on the keyboard, and the band always extends the “You don’t need a doctor honey, you need a mortician baby” section of “Jennifer.” This was also the first time I saw Henderson play second guitar on a few songs. This added to the Brothers' wide diversity and ability to re-create their songs live.
The band’s set was made up almost exclusively of tracks from Burn, Piano Island, Burn and Crimes. In fact, the only two songs not from those albums were “Jennifer” and “Mr. Electric Ocean.” The rest of the set included songs such as “Feed Me To The Forest,” “Trash Flavored Trash,” “Peacock Skeleton With Crooked Feathers,” “Fucking’s Greatest Hits,” “Rats And Rats And Rats For Candy,” “Crimes,” “Ambulance Vs. Ambulance,” “Cecilia And The Silhouette Saloon,” and “Celebrator.” For their encore they rocked through “Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck” and a cover of Queen’s “Under Pressure,” which was a far superior version to the Used and My Chemical Romance’s take on it, and included harmonized screams, hyper speed playing, and only minimal use of the famous bass line.
The Blood Brothers know how to put on a show that is pleasing to both the eyes and the ears. Their screamy, convulsive, and sinister take on hardcore is only amplified live thanks to an explosive and jittery stage presence that leaves you wanting more.