Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Bravery with The Dustys and U.S. Royalty

9:30 Club
Washington, D.C.
October 11th, 2009

U.S. Royalty
Locals U.S. Royalty opened the show tonight at the 9:30 Club by happenstance. When The Bravery rolled into town, they were supposed to be accompanied by alt-rock up and comers Living Things, but unfortunately that band had their van and all of their equipment stolen the previous night in New Jersey. Like the old proverb says, one band's misfortune is another band's gain...or something like that. Regardless, U.S. Royalty, who happen to be old friends with some of the guys in The Bravery, were asked to fill in at the last minute. The band was actually playing a block party in Dupont Circle (a neighborhood in D.C. for those out of towners who may be reading this) earlier in the day when they got the call from The Bravery.

The band had an old school rock n' roll vibe with just a little Southern rock thrown in for good measure...kind of like if the Rolling Stones and the Black Crowes got together for a jam session. As a matter of fact, singer John Thornley bears a striking resemblance to the Crowes Chris Robinson and his dance moves onstage are eerily similar to those of Mick Jagger. The singer kept himself busy throughout the set, at times playing a harmonica, a tambourine and a maraca. The remaining members of the band include Thornley's brother and Boy George look-alike Paul Thornley on guitar, Jacob Michael on bass and Luke Adams behind the drum kit. Despite the late notice, U.S. Royalty were a hit with the crowd and a perfect compliment to the dance rock of tonight's headliner.

The Dustys
The same cannot be said for The Dustys from Arlington, Virginia, who were actually billed to play in U.S. Royalty's slot. With the late cancellation of Living Things, The Dustys got bumped up in the lineup to play in front of the headliner, a slot they seemed ill-prepared to fill. With very little stage presence and a bland garage-rock sound, the band fell flat and frankly seemed out of their element. The vocalist/guitarist had very little to say to the crowd, deferring to the keyboardist, who had even less to say (but at least he tried). I'm pretty sure at one point in the show he actually talked about the hat that he was wearing, letting us all know that he got it in Tulsa...huh? Forgettable.

The Bravery
New York City new wave purveyors The Bravery came out to the familiar riff of their hit "Unconditional". Awash in a sea of lights with a movie screen background, the band rolled through songs from both of their albums, as well as music from their forthcoming release "Stir the Blood". As a matter of fact, frontman Sam Endicott informed the crowd early in the show..."we're gonna play some new shit, we're gonna play some old shit, we're gonna play some middle shit". And that's exactly what they did.

John Conway's keyboards were the focal point of The Bravery's sound, at times nearly drowning out Endicott's vocals. That being said, when the band was on, they sounded brilliant. When the singer introduced "Time Won't Let Me Go" by dedicating it to Pony Boy and Soda Pop (if you don't get it, then please stop reading this and go read The Outsiders), the crowd erupted and the band fed off their energy.

Rounded out by guitarist Michael Zakarin, bassist Mike Hindert and drummer Anthony Burulcich, The Bravery were fun, but like their supporting acts, perhaps not all that memorable. Aside from the hits, especially "Honest Mistake" which sounded amazing, the rest of the show seemed like a blur of keyboards and lights. When Endicott said "it's good to be back, this is the city I was born in", the crowd seemed ready to welcome him. Only time will tell if they'll still be there when he returns.

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