For over half a decade the Blood Brothers have broken rules and redirected expectations all the while producing extraordinary music that stands above that of their peers. The band has come a long way since first making waves with the release of their debut album, Rumors Laid Waste. Although the boys have found their way out of the basement, the arrival of their most recent album, Crimes, continues to perfect the Blood Brothers' tormented mixture of catchy pop-rock hooks, synthesized armageddon, and blood curdling post-punk hardcore. In a live show the Blood Brothers fail to disappoint, providing something for the eyes and ears that surpasses even the most jaded expectations.
The band's Chicago performance at the Riv on Saturday was a riveting display of musical talent and superb showmanship. Pinned in the front of the venue, practically hugging the stage, I gazed in dismay as each member of the diverse five-piece brought to life the intense complexity of the new album. The result was tremendous, and the audience reacted with little regard to the overzealous security officials. As I snapped photos in front, the occasional sound of shoes whizzing overhead encouraged me to duck while switching between cameras. The Blood Brothers, however, moved about stage unfazed by the projectiles and like true gentlemen, thanked the crowd between songs. At one point vocalist/keyboardist Morgan Henderson leaped into the audience and was nearly swallowed by the massive congregation of enthusiastic participants.
Crimes has given a chance for the band to step out of familiar patterns and perhaps take the Blood Brothers' legacy in a new direction. With the aid of producer John Goodmanson (Blonde Redhead, Sleater-Kinney), the group has pushed forward, maximizing the spastic nature of their music while fully capturing the poetic moods that emerge between dramatic onslaughts. Although members Johnny Whitney and Mark Gajadhar are involved in the recent release of their ambitious side project, Neon Blonde, the Blood Brothers still perform as a tightly knit unit, thrashing through songs and captivating the crowd.
Despite security herding crowd surfers into the press pit, bodies continued to float on top the hundreds of hands attempting to reach the sky. The back and forth bantering of both lead vocalists worked the audience into a frenzy, creating a well organized mob of unruly teenagers in skin tight jeans and black t-shirts.
As the Blood Brothers began to play their closing song, “Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck,” I witnessed a girl no older than fourteen get an accidental elbow in the nose. Instantly, blood rushed from her nostrils and down the young girl’s face. Tears poured from her squinted eyes as she was quickly helped to the side. Although I felt very sorry for the girl, the sight of blood seemed to be an almost ironic occurrence. The Blood Brothers continually rising popularity hasn’t jeopardized the bands distinctive edge. They are still dangerous as ever, both in their studio recordings and on stage. The group’s potent lyrics and ingenious timing has crafted a lasting notch in the history of contemporary indie-rock.