The show was at a small neighborhood bar on the northwest side called Luney Tunes. I knew we were at the right place because the four people standing outside as we approached happened to be members of Brave. The first band got started right when we walked in; I don’t recall their name, but they were a pretty good hard rock three-piece with some thrashy and doomy influences. Those three guys took up most of the stage in the tiny place, so I was wondering how Brave would manage.
When Brave took the stage, there were approximately 20 people on the stage-side of the bar, with perhaps another 15 people hanging out in the other room. Turned out Brave actually had six people, which while thankfully not enough to outnumber the audience, appeared to be quite a challenge to arrange on stage. Three lined up in the back, and three lined up in the front. It was only after my brother pointed it out to me that I noticed the front half of the “stage” that three people were standing on was in reality a pool table.
Anyway, as for the show, it was really cool and well-done. They played a whole bunch of songs off the new album, two from “Before an Audience of Stars”, and one I didn’t recognize, which I assume was from the EP. I believe I remember reading that Michelle was incredibly shy when she started singing; well, she’s certainly gotten over that. She was quite expressive (maybe it was the bare feet) and sounded great, especially in the strong choruses where she’d really belt it out. The rest of the musicians weren’t particularly animate (except for the violinist) but I’m sure that had something to do with not wanting to fall off the pool table. It was interesting to see how often everyone except for the drummer and bassist would trade instruments; they must have had at least five different configurations throughout the night (electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, and electric violin were the instruments to choose from). Highlights for me were “Dreaming”, and then they closed their set with “Trapped Inside” from the new album, which totally slayed.
In concert reviews I often see people say “such-and-such a song sounded SO much better live than it does on CD”. I’ve never really been able to understand that, since I always like songs just the same live and on CD. I often think people would hear the same improvement if they listened at home after drinking four or five beers. However, for all the songs off the new album, they did sound better to me. I think in this case it was mostly a result of timing, since I’d just gotten the album a few days ago. I’d only listened to it four or five times, so I was still getting familiar with the songs, and thus at the time of the show, I was perfectly primed to “get it”. So that was pretty cool.
It seems one of the big questions in relation to Brave and their fans has to be “is this band ‘metal’?” Despite the lack of solid “metal” evidence in their sound, I think the answer must be yes for some strange reason. Among the twenty people, I saw shirts from November’s Doom, Lucifer’s Hammer, Incantation, and Katatonia (none of which were worn by me or my brother), so the “metal” crowd definitely seems to be their main audience (at least in Chicago). In addition, the keyboard player was wearing an old-school Amorphis shirt, and electric violinist was headbanging like crazy and throwing the devil horns every which way. For some reason it’s just very interesting to me how a band like this does very well in the metal community, while another band just like them might hit a completely different audience.
Speaking of the audience, despite its tiny size, everyone was quite appreciative and loud in their applause, giving a better response than many crowds I’ve seen four or five times that size. That, combined with one of the club’s owners coming out near the end of the set and pseudo-headbanging and generally having a great time made for a really nice atmosphere. My brother, who had just heard “Before an Audience…” once before the show, picked up two CDs, so it must have been a pretty convincing show. They said they might come back around in September, so hopefully more people will hear about the show then and come on out (or not be lazy old married people who have to go to bed early on Friday night! 🙂