JEFF the Brotherhood seems to have amassed a large Pittsburgh following in the years since I first saw them on tour with Pentagram several years ago. Last year’s Thanksgiving show at Howlers was a total party, and those who packed Brillobox last Friday night seemed primed for something similar.
First, there was local three piece Chrome Moses, who offered some well-executed, fully rockin’ garage-blues, and brought to mind Kings of Leon circa 2003. Admittedly, comparing anyone to Kings of Leon is kind of loaded, and potentially a little backhanded, but in this case it wasn’t a bad thing.
Next came Hunters, from Brooklyn, who — because one of their t-shirts featured photo of Kelly Bundy — won me over a little bit before they’d even started. My plus-one was less enthused, describing them as “young, with haircuts.” They did have nice haircuts, it’s true. And the singer’s cotton candy-colored locks were pretty much all I could see of her, because she almost never stopped moving, showing a level of energy to rival any sugar-high 5 year old. Can’t say Hunters blew my mind, but they did their thing, and did it well, and in their best moments reminded me of both the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Live Through This —era Hole. Not bad at all.
JEFF took the stage after a long sound check — “Ten hours” by guitarist Jake Orrall’s estimation. They played half the set as a two-piece, and adding a guitarist and a keyboardist (I think? As a short person, I often fantasize about having a periscope at crowded shows) for the second half. When I’m not actually listening to JEFF the Brotherhood, I think of them as a band that plays succinct and catchy garage rock, and I forget that — as song titles like Heavy Krishna and Heavy Days suggest — they owe as much to Deep Purple as they do to the Ramones. They can also jam out, and did so, quite a bit. It was a strong set, even if it lacked some of the spontaneous exuberance of their Howler’s show. That night had obviously proved memorable for them, too. “We always have fun in Pittsburgh,” Jake said, noting Thanksgiving as a prime example.“Cheers to anyone who was at that show.”