I am not sure it is appropriate to call Brakes a side-project. Sure, each band member has another full-time music project, with Eamon Hamilton in British Sea Power, Tom & Alex White in Electric Soft Parade and Marc Beatty in Tenderfoot. So yes, Brakes could technically be considered a side-project, but when they took the stage last night at Pianos, they sounded like a full-time rock & roll machine.
Their debut album, Give Blood, is a fucked up blend of blend of country and punk that was practically recorded live. Very little overdubs were used, cranking out the album in just five days. Knowing this, one would think that seeing them perform would sound pretty much like the album, but louder and with a bit of stage banter. Wrong. These four talented dudes rocked the shit out of their tunes, giving a whole new life to songs such as “Heard About Your Band” and “Pick Up The Phone”.
“What’s In It For Me” exploded off the stage, with Eamon’s vocals teetering somewhere between Neil Young and Frank Black as he yelped “you are the spine you are the backbone, this nation state, fill up their heads with fear, fill their eyes up with lust.” One of the biggest surprises of the night was “I Can’t Stand To Stand Beside You”, which also happened to be one of their only songs to last more than two minutes. Tom White’s wall of guitar erupted during the chorus, supported by Marc Beatty’s fuzzed-out bassline.
Another highlight was the single “All Night Disco Party”, which transformed this booty-shaking DFA-flavored tune into one hell of a rock song. Alex White’s precise drumming added elements of color, improving on the already fantastic recorded version. The set did have its share of covers, including a tune from Camper Van Beethoven as well as the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Sometimes Always.”
When your album clocks in at somewhere around thirty minutes, any expectations of a set much longer than that was pretty unrealistic. When their forty-minute set came to an end, the packed crowd was craving more of the Brakes’ satiric brilliance. They concluded with the twang-tastic “NY Pie”, which was fitting for their final NYC performance for this particular trip to the US. We can only hope that Brakes return to North America soon. If they happen to stop in your town, please don’t talk during the band’s performance. As stated in “Hi How Are You”, Eamon doesn’t like that very much. “Won’t you shut the fuck up I’m just trying to watch the band.” Well said.