It's not the same as an early show, but the timing worked out perfectly for this triple bill with Brakes (or, I suppose, Brakesbrakesbrakes) sandwiched right in the middle. Call it a surgical strike--after the all-day undertaking known as the Treasure Island Music Festival, it was a relief to wander into the Rickshaw Stop five minutes before the music started and depart even more quickly as soon as the set concluded.
Brakesbrakesbrakes, the Rickshaw Stop, October 21, 2009: I work on the assumption that all music is ephemeral--not just the tunes themselves, but the bands, the lineups, and, generally, your tastes and preferences. Get it while it's hot.
But as anyone who reads this blog knows, I can be a loyal listener, and once a band or an artist gets under my skin, I want to support them for as long as I can. It doesn't hurt when the performers in question continue to kick around the club circuit, even flying in from overseas and traipsing all the way to the western edge of this country to do so. Chalk one up for Brakes on each of the aforementioned counts.
Brakes has taken me by surprise at nearly every turn--from their very existence to the fact that I love their first two albums so much, and now with their third album. Who knew it would be such a charming and varied sampler? I'm all for young bands airing their piss and angst on those early records, but I'll take melodies, verses, bridges, and--dare I say it--maturity nearly any day, and that's exactly what Brakes have delivered on this release. Certainly, we've heard hints of it before, even going back to the first album, but the leap they've made with Touchdown is a pleasure to behold.
As veritable veterans these days, Brakes aren't lacking in material to fill out their live show, and their set at the Rickshaw Stop drew fairly from each record. I detected a slight emphasis on songs from the first album. Was it just me or did they take their time to work their way to songs from the new record? Then again, I wasn't keeping count; it's likely I'm just more familiar with the first two albums, having spent so much time listening to them, that those tunes stick with me more than the new stuff. And like I'm going to forget any performance of "Jackson" (even if their friend didn't quite deliver on his promise to sing or dance for us)?!
I've complained that the band hasn't quite figured out how to balance their song selection to reflect their range of sounds. I think they've remedied that situation, and it was great to hear those immediate jabs of music alongside the prettier, lilting titles. They remain a band I like better on record than live, but the fuller sound of Touchdown translated quite well to the environs of the Rickshaw Stop. Among the newer songs, "Don't Take Me to Space (Man)" swept through on a refreshing breeze that characterizes much of the record, while "Leaving England" carried some poignancy when Eamon informed us it was based on a true story.
Those of you who've seen Brakes in concert before may be heartened to know that other elements have remained the same. They made use of their last moments of stage time with not one but two--two!--takes of "Comma Comma Full Stop." The paean de punctuation forever endears them in this copy editor's heart, but apparently, I wasn't alone in feeling its pull. The song was so explosive that guitarist Thomas White had to descend from the stage and plant himself on the club floor, as if to ground himself from the tune's full force. Prepare for blastoff.
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