It’s been over a year since I last saw BRMC (and even longer for most non SoCal area fans), the absence really does make the heart grow fonder. After just hearing about and seeing pictures and videos from shows in New York (and some private gigs), it was exciting to finally see and hear what they’ve been writing for the new album to be released in March of next year. I’ve lost count of how many shows I’ve actually seen (I need the BRMC site to keep track of that), but I know Jodi said Slims was her 86th show.
My show count is probably close to that, but my notes aren’t very up to date. Anyways, once you’ve lost count of how many shows it’s been, it really makes it hard to be objective about their music. At this point, you either love the songs or you’re bored of them. Fortunately, I haven’t gotten bored of them yet and the new ones did not disappoint either. They started the San Francisco and LA show with their cover of the Call’s “Let the Day Begin,” and in Santa Cruz, they were joined by Tom Ferrier of The Call on guitars.
I recorded a video of this version, but the audio is not as good as the camera I used for the Troubadour videos:
The cover of “Let the Day Begin” was a loving tribute to Michael Been, who sadly passed away a couple years ago during a European tour. As we waited outside Slim’s, we could hear their extended sound check to get the song just right. This delayed the opening band Cellar Doors soundcheck, who had opened a previous San Francisco show for them on the last tour. Though they had some sound problems during their set, they played a solid opening set of dreamy psych rock that fits well with BRMC.
It really does feel like a reunion to see all the BRMC fans who usually attend most West Coast shows, as well as the extremely dedicated fans who travel from even farther away. Of course, the band often hang out to chat with fans after the shows and even further show their appreciation of the fans by impromptu serenades. But I haven’t gotten to that show yet. The 2nd new track “Funny Games” has kind of grown on me, with its sinister bass line slithering through effect laden guitar – not unlike “River Styx” or “Spread Your Love.”
BRMC played a mix of recent and older songs from the last two albums interspersed with a few new songs. Other new songs included “Lullaby” – a pretty tune with a pleasantly melodic sound and sweet harmonies, “Rival” – a real rocker with an urgent marching beat that shows they haven’t mellowed out (though Leah’s drumming helps with that), and “Lose Yourself” – an 8 minute long opus that builds from a quiet song to a wall of beautiful wailing guitars. Here’s a link to a great video of “Lose Yourself” at Slim’s.
Hearing “Screaming Gun” at each shows has been nice, and they played “US Government” at each show – which sounds a bit more like “Six Barrel Shotgun” than it used to. Each show had notices about being everything recorded, which was pretty noticeable at especially the Atrium and Troubadour shows. It wouldn’t be a real BRMC show without the sound turned up to 11, accompanied by hours or days of buzzing (depending on how good your earplugs are).
And going back to what I was saying about serenading fans… after the Troubadour show – BRMC’s tour manager Grant called Jodi (who had changed into her Santa onesie and was handing out Hershey’s kisses to lingering fans) over to have Robert announce he was going to serenade her, with a mischievous grin. It was appropriate that he started the acoustic set with “Silent Night” and a dark version of “Jingle Bells” – both a bit quieter than the other songs.
He also played a song that hadn’t been played in awhile called “The Knife,” which we’d first heard back in 2008 at the acoustic show at the Great American Music Hall. The lyrics do remind me of Jodi (who always brings homemade delicious cookies for the band and crew and buys almost every new piece of band merch), it was definitely a fitting part of the serenade. The other songs played were “Sympathetic Noose” and the new one “Returning” (click link for video) – which will supposedly be Jodi’s new favorite song. That would not surprise me after the lovely serenade.
I forgot to mention the opening bands for Santa Cruz and the Troubadour, Cab 20 seemed to a be a very enthusiastic group of hard rockin guys – probably a heavier sound than BRMC, but they definitely had a lot of energy. Restavrant are an impressive two piece band, who have been around the LA music scene for a bit longer, they sound like great inspiration for the Howl album as they have a very back porch country sound. They had some impressive musical chops as well, and responded fairly well to some good natured ribbing from the audience. Here are links to my photos from the shows, I didn’t take as many because I was testing out a new camera and wasn’t sure about the battery life.