It was almost a year ago to the day that I first heard the rumors about MG&V, an indie-folk-rock "supergroup" comprised of the frontmen of Deer Tick, Delta Spirit and Dawes. Now, 12 months and 1 name-change later, Middle Brother is a reality. I won't go into too much detail on the record itself, but I will say that all of my expectations were surpassed. Rather than a collection of unpolished outtakes or throwaways that weren't good enough for their full-time bands, the collaboration showcases each of the songwriters in top form - each putting their stylistic mark on the album. Matt Vasquez brings gritty soul-infused rock, John McCauley his trademark whiskey-soaked country-folk and Taylor Goldsmith lends a heart-on-sleeve croon and searing lead guitar. It's an album that finds harmony in the cohesion between three talented and unique songwriters.
Fresh off the release of their self-titled album, the "Middle Brother Revue" rolled into Boston last Thursday. I can't recall the last time I was as excited for a show - afterall, how often do you get a chance to see three of your favorite bands sharing the same stage? Dawes and Deer Tick both played solid opening sets to a packed house (more on those in later posts...), setting the stage for Middle Brother and underscoring the unique dynamic of the lineup. On this night, the opening bands' material was much more familiar to most of the crowd than that of the headliner. With a revolving cast of bandmembers of stage for both of the opening sets, both of which featured crowd-favorite originals and singalong covers, the actual headlining set could have been anti-climatic. As soon as the threesome, joined by members of Dawes, took the stage, any such notion was erased. They exploded with confidence and energy, clearly having a blast, playing off of one another and delivering one of the most memorable sets I've seen in a while.
The Matt Vasquez-led opener "Blue Eyes" started the show on a rollicking note, while Taylor Goldsmith's poignant "Wilderness" and McCauley's sweetly wistful "Daydreaming" provided slower counterpoints. The show, like the album, gave each bandmember a chance to shine, with "Million Dollar Bill" as the sparkling centerpiece with gorgeous three-part harmonies and traded verses. As a perfectly-sloppy version of "Twist and Shout" capped-off over three hours of music, I couldn't help but think how lucky I was to be able to see this band in person. Call me a pessimist, but I'm not sure the busy schedules of three increasingly-popular bands will allow for too many collaborations/tours like this down the road. I hope I'm wrong.
Enjoy a fantastic complete recording of the show below - sound is excellent thanks to a great mix at the Paradise and a clean soundboard+room matrix. Keep an eye out for the Dawes and Deer Tick sets soon too! Please support all 4 bands by buying their music: Middle Brother | Deer Tick | Dawes | Delta Spirit
Paradise Rock Club - Boston MA
March 3, 2011
Full set download: mp3 zip
Related post: Dawes - Live at the Paradise Boston MA 3.3.11