The Fillmore in Silver Spring, MD was less than half-full on Thanksgiving weekend for a triple bill of rowdy rock, headlined by San Diego’s Delta Spirit. Still, the crowd that was there filled the venue with appreciative howls for a mixed bag of thrash, stomp and muscular sounds.
Openers FIDLAR, a skate-punk quartet from Los Angeles, brought the thrash. True to their name (an acronym for “[Expletive] it, dog, life’s a risk”) the young, brash band didn’t seem to care that their rebellious attitude, with odes to “Cheap Beer” and “Cocaine,” was an odd fit with the more refined songcraft of Delta Spirit. The two bands have been touring together for some weeks and FIDLAR’s frenetic manner showed them determined to make their moment count even if the audience was still just settling in.
The arrival next of Nashville-based duo JEFF The Brotherhood provided a link of sorts between the barely-contained chaos of the opener and the controlled passion of the headliner. Brothers Jake (guitar, vocals) and Jamin (drum) Orrall have been playing together since they were kids and have been touring for a decade, from local dives to Lollapalooza, performing over 400 shows in just the past two years alone. And so, while JTB’s most recent album, “Hypnotic Nights,” is their major label debut (for Warner Bros.), it’s also the culmination of many hours traveled and dues paid, following two well-received albums on the brothers’ own label, Infinity Cat Recordings.
Such experience has made the Brotherhood a model of less-is-more power. Fittingly, the new album was co-produced with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, and the two acts share an ability to create maximum mayhem with a minimal line-up. Jake’s black leather jacket wasn’t the only element of the set that called to mind the Ramones; so did the loud and direct sound, although Johnny, Joey and company never traded Godzilla stomp riffage the way the brothers did in heavy blues call-and-response exchanges that stirred the crowd to cheers.
With nods to the first wave of punk, the hey days of Sub Pop grunge, plus echoes of classic garage and stoner rock, Jeff the Brotherhood are an act that seem to exist simultaneously in the past and a somewhat timeless present. You can check ’em out yourself thanks to the nice folks at RCRDLBL.com, who are offering some free downloads from the duo’s self-released albums.
To those in the audience (including yours truly), who knew Delta Spirit only from the act’s recorded work, what happened next was surprising, but clearly expected by the band’s veteran fans. In short, the group took the stage and tore the joint up.
In a set drawn fairly equally from the group’s three full-lengths (2008’s “Ode to Sunshine,” 2010’s “History From Below” and this year’s eponymous release), Delta Spirit skipped most of the quieter ballads and went for the throat, nearly every song building with increasingly driving rhythms while guitarist/vocalist Matthew Vasquez extorted the crowd to a frenzy with howling exhortations that threatened to kill his vocal chords. The group’s revival meeting vibe hit a peak with the appropriately named “People, C’mon,” and the official set’s final song, “Trashcan,” which employs an actual garbage can lid as a percussion instrument.
A two-song encore of equally fierce barn-burners sealed the deal. You can view the night’s actual soundboard set list; though three songs are listed in the encore, the band skipped “People Turn Around.” And, while it doesn’t offer the ferocity of the live show, a free download of Delta Spirit’s “The Waits Room” EP is available, too.
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