written by Maria Arroyo
This past weekend was Will Brown‘s single release party at Ortlieb’s! Opening the show was a high impact, alt-electro band, Lovecartel. Throughout their set, they displayed incredible energy and musical moments. Lead singer Ash Kernen kept my eyes glued on him for most of the night. His performance felt real and authentic while still keeping the audience entertained. Another thing to note is that collectively as a band, it felt that they really believed in the music, and their interaction with the audience and each other made me have just as much fun as they were having.
Throughout the night there were a few technical difficulties, but the band was always able to rise above and even play it off as a joke. They debuted a new song called “Slow Hands” that Kernen wrote about life with his son. I loved that the title alludes to a softer song, but threw us for a surprise when it was upbeat and energetic. There was even a really great vocal part that caught my attention. My only note is I wanted to hear more of it! Overall, I was entertained from the beginning of the song until the end. This new song also showcased a funky bassline that made it easy to move to. There was also a better mix of higher impact and softer moments to keep the song interesting.
I noticed on some of the bigger hits not everyone was on the same page. Those strong beats could have been a lot more impactful had everyone kept in sync with one another and had a better means of communication. Their guitarist was an insanely talented player but did not match the physical energy of the other members. There were times where he was pulling off some amazing solos, but you wouldn’t know it by his demeanor. Even some eye contact or acknowledgment of his bandmates would have helped, but I didn’t get any of that.
It makes it even more difficult to watch when everyone’s having a good time and it feels like he isn’t. While I appreciate the grit that they have in their music, there were times where it distorted the melodic line beyond recognition. Especially in a live setting where things tend to bleed over, their melodies and chordal structures got lost in the mix. Overall, they were an incredible opener for the night and really amazed me in their musical abilities and inventive songs.
Next up on stage was Brooklyn-based band, The Big Easy. Right away, I knew their chemistry would be hard to match, and the matching guitars were definitely an added bonus. Down to their core, they are a straight-up punk band. Everything from their sound, to how the vocalist articulated his lyrics, to how they perform is very symbolic of that. They managed to keep up their high energy from beginning to end, which can be difficult when all of your music is that high energy.
Their sound is solid throughout, but there are some opportunities for improvement in some of the finer details. There were moments, like in Lovecartel, where they just weren’t in sync with some of the stronger beats, which made the song feel sloppy. There were moments where the one guitarist, while entertaining, was not looking at a single person, therefore missed some bigger hits and couldn’t possibly be aware of any changes or non-verbal signals that may have been given off. I think they could benefit from better eye contact and knowing when to give other band members their chance to take over the stage.
I really appreciated the amount of fun and excitement that they brought to the stage. You could tell this band was just a group of guys doing what they love! There was an especially interesting musical moment in one of the songs where both guitarists played a harmonized guitar riff that was perfectly balanced and executed. There are times where it feels like their over energy and silly little moments are trying to cover up for some musical uncertainties. I’d like to see them push past that and hear a little more control in the vocals. This style, in particular, feels like you’re constantly trying to sing as loud as possible, but taking time to find those softer moments to make the bigger moment even grander. It will help with some more texture in the vocals, but also help his voice from sounding so tired halfway through the set. I think the band has a few more kinks to work out musically and performance-wise, but they do show good promise.
Last, but most definitely not least is the incredible Will Brown! He recently released his newest single, “A Thing (Our Thing)”. The anticipation of what he was going to perform was eating at me and I couldn’t be more satisfied with his performance. I think the balance between him, his synth/bass player and drummer really worked out well and made for better performance.
I loved the moments of ambient and spacey tonal parts that intertwined into his guitar-heavy sound. Brown has a little more bite behind his vocals, giving him an edgier sound. I think having a prior interview with him gave me an idea of what his sound would be, but hearing it in person is a whole different experience. He is able to mix all of these interesting musical choices to create a newer sound. His ability to give us a full performance without any extra gimmicks speaks to his musicianship and his high caliber of work.
A big part of his music stands in his guitar solos, and man, did we hear them. Even when the whole song was a guitar solo, he kept me captivated from beginning to end. The instrumental breakdowns between all of them were executed very well and it still blows my mind that he can perform these complex musical moments while making it look so easy.
The show was diverse, the crowd enjoyed all three bands, and I think all three of them gained an even stronger fan base. All of them had something different they brought, but they all worked together to put on a fun and exciting show.