In advance of a fall tour that kicks off next month, San Diego jam band Brothers Gow took the stage at the Music Box, a venue new to the band and relatively new to the San Diego music scene. Throughout their one solid set, the band managed to showcase their diverse musical aptitude and took seriously their responsibility for rocking.
The quintet’s undeniable musical chemistry paved the way for fresh takes on classic covers, conquered clever mash-ups which have been a mainstay of recent performances, breathed new life into long-forgotten originals, and finished strong with sit-ins by Dela and AG of the Stoopid horn section.
With a ceremonial welcome and cheers from rhythm guitar and vocalist, Ethan Wade, the boys blazed out of the gate with “Good Clean Fun,” a multi-part progressive original that kicks off upbeat and danceable on the outset before melting into a relaxed and comfortable groove. The original appeared in multiple teases throughout the night’s tightly-woven, exploratory set.
Grunge-infused “The Well” illustrated the band’s decisive transitions, and their deep understanding of intentional musical dissonance infused by Wade’s deep, infectious vocals. Soon after, things took a turn to the downright funky with “Atomic Snoop,” an ingenious fusion of George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” and Snoop Dogg’s “Who Am I (What’s My Name),” with spirited vocal interplay between Wade, lead guitar Kyle Merrill, and keyboardist Alex Gow Bastine.
“Good Clean Fun” made its second appearance of the night during a reinvigorated instrumental section of “Whiskey Sunday” where the cohesive rhythm section – drummer Nathan Walsh-Haines and bassist Carson Church – joined forces deep in the pocket. Merrill took the vocal reins on “Tangerine,” a touching debut original followed by lick-heavy “Reflections,” the title track from Brothers Gow’s fourth studio album.
The highlight of the night came when horn players AG and Dela from the Stoopid horn section joined Brothers Gow for a duo of songs, original “Wake and Bake” and a clever mashup dubbed “Bad LA Coke,” encompassing Escort’s “Cocaine Blues” (with Walsh-Haines making a rare appearance on lead vocals), Umphrey’s McGee’s “Bad Friday,” and the Grateful Dead’s “West LA Fadeaway.” Watch the band’s official video below.
The night wrapped up with “Articulated Mush,” a driving, metal-esque, uptempo instrumental, ripe for improvisation with dueling talk box solos from Merrill and Bastine before diving back into “Good Clean Fun” one last time. A “Shadow” encore closed the night, with a Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” chorus to send friends off in the the downtown San Diego night.
Brothers Gow weren’t the only ones in the venue to dig deep: fans at the show helped to raise more than $200 for the band’s eponymous music foundation, which helps to put instruments into K-12 classrooms in San Diego.
Setlist: Brothers Gow at The Music Box, San Diego, CA – 9/9/16
Good Clean Fun >
Whiskey Sunday (with Good Clean Fun tease)
Wake and Bake (with Dela and AG from Stoopid Horn section) >
Bad LA Coke
Good Clean Fun
Encore: Shadow > With a Little Help From My Friends