By NATE WAGGONER
JEFF the Brotherhood
Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012
Bottom of the Hill
Better than: Wayne's World 2... and maybe the original Wayne's World as well.
A JEFF the Brotherhood show at Bottom of the Hill offers the kind of transcendent, joyfully dumb and bizarre fun best exemplified by the venue's decorations (a Bride of Frankenstein head, a fake Oscar, a giant cat head, a Jesus statue). There were Cosby sweaters in the moshpit, power chords, and lyrics like, "I think you are so sexy / Won't you mellow out with me? / You're so cool, / I am too..."
JEFF the Brotherhood consists of Jake and Jamin Orral, two brothers from Nashville. Their past three albums -- 2009's Heavy Days, 2011's We Are the Champions, and this year's Hypnotic Knights -- each begin with intense sets of hard rock numbers about partying, then ease into more trippy, haunting fare. Last night's performance stuck mostly to the hard rock, varying enough dynamically so as not to be exhausting or repetitive, but also never dragging or giving in to self-indulgence.
L.A.'s Colleen Green started off the show. She played bass and sang in a plaintive voice, accompanied only by a drum machine. These three elements combined to create an otherworldly melancholy, and the audience -- still sparse at this point -- seemed mostly attentive. Still, Green felt the need to sass the more distracted audience members: "Thanks for not having shouting conversations while I'm trying to sing... I'll be done soon." It's hard to say what she expected at a rock 'n' roll show, but she also expressed a sentiment I wish I heard more often. She closed with a beautiful cover of Weezer's early B-side, "Suzanne."
The members of Diarrhea Planet include four guitar players and one bassist, and the guitarists all shouted along with the singer. One guitarist even indulged throughout the set in Van Halen-style finger-tapping.
"This is our first time in San Francisco!" one member yelled.
"We're gettin' hyphy!" another added.
"I know, dude!" chimed a third. Then the lead singer whipped off his shirt.
They played a fairly long set of rollicking songs with grunge-style, loud-quiet-loud structures, and they kept the banter going: at one point the singer listed food he wanted to eat. The music of Diarrhea Planet articulates basically the same thing as that of JEFF the Brotherhood -- mindless good times and young male sexuality -- but JEFF does it in a more succinct and memorable way.
The brothers started with "Mellow Out," from We Are the Champions, and escalated things further with "Country Life," the opening track from Hypnotic Knights. "I need my rowdy boys up here," singer Jake suggested to the audience. The moshers did become progressively rowdier -- one young woman in a white tank top seemed almost intentionally self-destructive -- but there was a good nature to it. Where moshpits at some shows accrue an air of collective menace, the summer-fun vibes of JEFF may have had a positive influence on this crowd. People helped each other up off the floor, and the only damage I saw done was to beer glasses.
"The first time we came here was with Ted Leo," mused Jake. "It's like when you go someplace you went to when you were six -- it seems so tiny now!"
"Oh, THANKS!" an audience member shouted in reply.
During "Ripper," Jake walked off the stage to play the song's relatively long, instrumental intro amongst the crowd. During "Bone Jam," a rowdy boy knocked the mic over. The band faltered only a few times, most notably during "The Tropics." The song stumbled around awkwardly for a few minutes, threatening repeatedly to end abruptly until it finally did.
Broken glass, a few mistakes, an unintentionally back-handed remark, and a cold and rainy night in San Francisco ultimately couldn't hamper the spirit of a band whose music invites comparisons to Black Sabbath, punk rock, and Weezer, and whose lyrics and (NSFW) music videos present imagery of driving around shirtless in big cars and drinking in a river.
Toward the end of the night, Jamin got up from his drum set and spoke into the microphone, thanking the crowd. "We'll do three more songs," he said, "But we're not doing an encore, we think those are stupid."
"Thank you for being here," Jake added. "If none of you were here, it would be a really boring show."
Personal bias: Like JEFF the Brotherhood and Diarrhea Planet, I am from the South and love to rock.
Minor gripe: I would have loved to hear "Wastoid Girl."
If you missed it: Go to Portland and see them tomorrow night!