Concert Review: Brakes, October 2009

Brakes at El Mocambo – Toronto

October 10, 2009


By Aaron Binder

Enough bands have been written about by Fazer Magazine that somewhere along the line, one of them must have considered that a red velvet drape would be an excellent addition to their stage show.  Whether or not one of those bands is Brakes will have to be answered at a different time, but it definitely didn’t hurt their performance on one chilly Saturday the 10th of October.

There’s something incredibly alluring about the red velvet curtain that finds itself running across the back of the main-floor stage at the infamous El Mocambo.  The exhumed, reanimated remains of GG Allin could be playing a show there and still maintain the slightest semblance of class thanks to that sexy curtain.

Brakes is a poppy, progressive-y band from Brighton, England.  They have managed to continue cranking out tunes since 2003 to wide acclaim in Europe and have recently begun to enjoy commercial success in North America thanks to their song All Night Disco Party being used in an episode of Ugly Betty.  Their style is a huge mash-up of genres that give a strong showing from 60’s surf-rock to current alternative rock and quite a few other styles in between, almost always dashed with a dose of punk for good measure.

Live they came off even rawer than on album, a feat considering that their albums read like sandpaper; gritty, but eventually smooth.  Their influences; the 60’s American surf-rock, Brit garage rock and their sometimes-sugary coating of pop punk sweeten the delicious delivery of their solid jawbreaker performance.  It’s not all lollipops and surfy pop-rocks though; one of their heaviest songs of the evening was a beautifully composed ballad.

They have a stunning ability to jump right from ballad material into high-speed, throw-down straight up rock songs; exhibited by an extended version of their new single Don’t Take Me To Space (Man), the upbeat, rather optimistic song progressed into a lower key, dirge style haunt before picking right back up and blowing up the venue for a stunning climax. Guitarist provided a slew of kicks throughout the show, advancing the belief that happy music can still be aggressive.

There were plenty of high-points throughout their set, but the last 3 songs put them into the ‘best of year’ category.  They eventually slipped in one slow song, usually this kills a set, but they made it sound not just incredible, but exactly like it was written for you.  The emotions displayed by lead-singer Eamon were so powerful that it left you wondering what type of heinous crank could have ripped out a heart so delicate.  As soon as it was over, they spanked things back into high gear with a Cash cover and then tore off a 45-second quickie to end things.

This is definitely a band to check out NOW.  If they continue along the trajectory they are traveling, next time they come around you’ll be paying 50 bucks for nosebleed seats.  They have an incredibly connective talent; their music is diverse in style but focused on being human.  They may never incorporate a red curtain into their live show, but they have enough personality just standing on stage that this band will only gain more critical acclaim as the years go by.


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