Written and Photographed by Killian O’Neil
A certain type of joy comes from finding a band that hasn’t yet blown up and is on its way. It’s almost comparable to Christmas morning when you’re opening your presents. This past summer, I got to experience that for the first time in a while with Don Broco. They were one of the supporting bands on tour with The Used and Pierce The Veil. I remember thinking, “holy shit, these guys are amazing; what rock have they been hiding under” when I saw them in July at the Stone Pony in Ashbury Park, NJ.
I soon learned Don Broco was from Bedford, England, which explained everything I needed to know. I was beyond stoked to hear that they were coming back to Philly so soon after just being on tour. The only difference about this time was that they were the headliners.
It was finally the night of the concert, and the city was abuzz. Don Broco was playing at the TLA, which meant good sound and an intimate setting. It was also a Sold Out Show to make the deal even sweeter. As I walked up to the venue, a line started forming about a block from the box office. It was clear that most of the fans standing in line discovered them this past summer on that same tour. The line for admission into the TLA was single filed and riddled with different colored hair and a slew of black makeup. Upon entering the venue, you’re immediately hit with a jam-packed merch line and another line for bathrooms. My only concern was finding a spot to stand with a clear view of the stage.
I was taken back by the age demographic of this concert. Everyone and their mother were there. I looked to my left, and two children were running around no older than 12, and to my right, there was a couple in their mid-30s; no one was being left out tonight. Within minutes of arriving inside, the lights started to dim, and the house music started to play, queuing the show’s beginning. The night started with a band called The Color 8, who blew my mind with their rock/screamo/jazz hybrid. They were a three-piece band with a drummer, a frontman, and a guitarist; the frontman also doubled as a saxophone player. The entire ensemble was goddamn brilliant. It would switch from screaming to a heavy bass and finish with a buttery saxophone. I never would have thought to put those different elements together, but thank god someone did. The next band up that night was called Ryan Oakes, another three-piece band with a drummer, guitarist, and a frontman/MC. Now these guys were more so punk-pop goes rap with some Lofi beats mixed in. Ryan Oakes was a true MC and talent on the mic and knew how to control a stage and room. They almost reminded me of The Beastie Boys, with how some of their songs are arranged with the rap mixed into it with live drums. The entire crowd was entranced and singing along with every lyric.
The Home Team, a band out of Washington state, was up next. They were the other headliners that evening and had the stage set with neon lights at different heights to frame them while performing. Every time they played a song, the lights behind them went off in various colors along with the beat. They played true pop punk, and their singer’s voice reminded me of a young Johnny Craig. Unfortunately, it was hard for me to hear them fully because the vocalist’s mic was turned down so low against all the other instruments, which ultimately drowned them out. When the band ended their set, it was shared with the crowd how big of an influence Don Broco had on them. They mention how this was their 2nd time going on tour with them, and they did four years ago as well. Once The Home Team wrapped up, It was finally time for Don Broco.
Everyone was geared up, and the room was filled wall to wall; it felt like I was living in a sardine can. The lights cut, the music stopped, and a spotlight hit the stage. One by one, the guys came out, and of course, in true fashion, Rob, lead singer of Don Broco, came out sporting what appeared to be a fan-made shirt that said, “I Love Don Broco.” The energy was exactly as I remember before powerful and electric. The way they harness the energy on stage reminds me so much of The Used with their showmanship. The band wasted no time and went right into their first song of the night, “Gumsheild,” and the crowd went wild. I can’t recall a moment other than when Rob talked to fans; he pulled up on stage where he stood still. No matter what, he was expelling energy and putting on a show. Don Broco played all the fan favorites off their two most recent albums, Amazing Things and Technology. Halfway through the show, Rob stopped performing and pointed out that there was a 10-year-old crowd surfing and brought him and his brother up on stage. There, he compared his mullet with the little boy’s and told the crowd to watch out for each other in the mosh pit. Every time I looked up, Rob would be wearing a different color cowboy hat that a fan had given him; at the show’s beginning, it was pink, then it was black, then it was pink again. No matter what happens, this band is always having fun and a good time. Their newest release, “Birthday Party,” was played, and DB brought up all of the musicians of the evening on stage to help them play it out. After that, they closed the evening with one of their biggest hits, “Everybody.” The entire TLA started yelling the lyrics and screaming. Once Don Broco silently exited the stage, the fans relentlessly demanded an encore. They chanted for at least a minute before the sold-out crowd got what they wanted. Ask, and you shall receive because the band filed back out, went into “Fingernails,” and closed the night with “T-shirt Song.” I am baffled at how amazing these dudes are because it’s just them doing what they love and doing it well. This band’s sound is a treat, from the guitar to the drums to the bass to Rob. Every part of these guys is authentic!
The vocals alone will take you on a journey like no other, and the rest of the band will put you under a spell. Rob mentioned during the show that this was the first time they had a sold-out show in Philadelphia. Let me tell you what: it may have been their first to sell out, but I promise it won’t be their last. These guys are hot and just getting started.
You can visit Don Broco online at: