Playing Straight : Concert Review of the Crooked Brothers

Crooked Brothers. L'Esco. Photo Zoe Schultz. Crooked Brothers. L'Esco. Photo Zoe Schultz.

It’s 9:00 and walking into L’Esco is both a surreal and familiar sensation. Instantly placed in an intimate setting of low wooden ceilings and stone walls, however was draped in an eerie red light from candles placed around the concert bar. Immediately I recognize Jesse and Darwin from the band and go up to them to introduce myself. The surreal part begins, proving that it is a small world after all. Turns out, Jesse from The Crooked Brothers knows a mutual family friend and for a while we are able to bask the sheer weirdness of it.

Crooked Brothers. L'Esco. Photo Zoe Schultz.

Crooked Brothers. L’Esco. Photo Zoe Schultz.

9:46 The band steps on the stage to tune their instruments and test out the equipment. Matt is on the banjo, Darwin on the harmonica and everyone taking their turn on the microphone for a vocal.

10:14 The lights go up and the Crooked Brothers are in position with the addition of Patrick Hamilton on the drums and a female bass player. The crowd falls silent and shivers running down their spines as Matt’s voice creeps and captivates the audience. “Your Love is a Ghost Town” is accompanied through eerie scratches and plucking of the bass and dobro. Jesse and Matt’s dark and haunting voices resonate through, as the red candlelight continues to flicker through the stone walls. I can’t help but notice how appropriate this song is for Halloween.

Crooked Brothers. L'Esco. Photo Zoe Schultz.

Crooked Brothers. L’Esco. Photo Zoe Schultz.

The atmosphere drastically changes as the band plays “17 Horses” with heavy drums and upbeat tempo. Each instrument plays its part as the guitar and dobro chime in with Matt alternating between a banjo and hitting a horse shoe for an extra “clang” effect.

Crooked Brothers 3. L'Esco. Photo Zoe Schultz

Crooked Brothers 3. L’Esco. Photo Zoe Schultz

“Another Sun” reflects a very distinct blues and rock combination that shows off Darwin’s skills on the harmonica, with an overall steady beat and collaboration between vocals. Switching into another similar song, however with an addition of Patrick on the drums contributes a strong rhythmic element.

“Mean Mean Baby” featuring Darwin heavily on the harmonica and vocals and “Organs on Demand” with a dialogue from Jesse are played halfway through the show. Suddenly, the crowd begins to shift and the occasional enthusiastic fans starts dancing near the stage. Throughout the performance the band and bass player start facing each other for what appears to be a musical battle between the bass, guitar, and banjo.

Crooked Brothers 4. Photo Zoe Schultz

Crooked Brothers 4. L’Esco Photo Zoe Schultz

This furious and fast paced playing resonates through the rocking and husky sound of “Lighting in my Chest” then proceeds to slow down into a mellow and authentic alternative-country-feel with “Kennedy” and “North of the Border”.

11:15 The crowd cheers for an encore and the Crooked Brothers happily give one as they unpack their instruments. The L’Esco is full of the distinct medley of banjo and Darwin’s harmonica. Matt with his gritty vocals with Jesse lead an ecstatic and satisfied crowd. They play until the next act comes up on stage, “Ol’ Savannah.”

The Crooked Brothers played at L’Escogriffe Bar on October 27. You can read our interview with the Crooked Brothers HERE.