JEFF the Brotherhood / Bully / The Lad Mags The Pawn Shop, Edmonton AB, April 6
Published Apr 07, 2015Whether it was playing first on a Monday night bill or having sound issues taking time to sort themselves out, Edmonton's Lad Mags took a little while to get comfortable. For the first half of their set, it was a challenge to even hear their three-part harmonies, but once the sound issues cleared up, the garage/soul group were able to play a solid set that was buoyed by their ability to switch instruments on each number and the psychedelic video projections playing behind them.
Nashville's Bully were the complete opposite, playing loud right from the get-go. Alicia Bognanno's vocals are rawer than what's represented on their recordings, but she's perfectly capable of pulling off the sweet tones she employs during the band's quieter verses, only to pull back for a screaming, headbanging chorus. For a young band, they've already assembled a legion of fans, and if the songs previewed from their upcoming debut album on this night are any sign, they're about to gain more.
As for headliners JEFF the Brotherhood set: they like beer, they like riffs and they like fuzz. Two of these things (the beer, not so much) were doled out like candy during their hour-long set. Looks-wise, the band could pass for two dudes who jam every week in their garage and just so happen to be pretty good at it, but in performance, and backed by a drummer, the brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall play off each other like pros; having auxiliary players only meant their live assault was heightened. The Edmonton stop, sadly, featured a compromised version of JEFF the Brotherhood, given their bassist was not able to make it into Canada.
"We'll see him a few days from now in Minnesota," said Jake Orrall. "We'll give him a hug for you." It's a credit to the band that a lack of bass was a non-issue, as they tore through a setlist made up of old favourites and new material from their LP Wasted on the Dream. Highlights included fuzz stomper duet "In My Dreams," in which Jake pulled Alicia from Bully up to do guest vocals, and a complete (!!!) version of Rush's "Working Man," despite the band openly wondering whether they could do it justice. Of course, they did; every solo was treated just right, and every riff was handled with care.
"We haven't played this in a very long time," Jake modestly said right after. "But we pulled it off." Yes they did.