Show Review

Brother Oliver @ Wilbert's 4/26

Morgan Minch

​I was so excited to hear Brother Oliver live. Their music is wildly expressive and mood-driven, but rocks you at the same time. One has to be willing to let go of any organized thought and expectation, and let herself be taken by the winding project that is Brother Oliver. 
 
The Indians game was just ending, and the brothers politely let the game play out on the screen in front of the stage. Cleveland vs. Houston. We won 7-6, and being right by Jacob’s Field, gobs of fans flowed into the long space.
 
Strings arose from the din of the crowd. The first song slid into a quick and quiet strum with lax, fluid voices. The bustle of the crowd contained it.  I thought how difficult it must be to use only a guitar and a mandolin to cover the bass, harmony, and melody. It was woven so well.
 
The second song shifted abruptly, with maleguenã-like inflections in the mandolin, arpeggiating fiercely into woe. Next, a continuous jam lush in texture surged then meandered. The mandolin blew high calls, almost with a humanistic voice. Purely instrumental, and no need for words—it was definitely meant to take its listener to a distant place. I could see the bar-goers get curious and stray their attentions from the usual post-game party.
 
The kickin’ bass strum on the guitar was what drove the second half of the concert, and forged a galloping, rhythmic structure for their ragas. I love how as this whole set progressed, it happened without any real break in sound. Instead, the songs were strung together with resonating guitar notes, one of the brothers humming, or even some Latin triplets.
 
They ended the set with their new single, “I Rely On Everything. “ It’s a catchy but pensive song whose chords stick to the sung melody in both pitch and rhythm, making for a very deliberate song. The lyrics are about the psychology of our modern-day reliance on so many things.
 
Brother Oliver’s avant-garde rock is peppered with Appalachia sounds, jazz, classic rock, funk, blues, 90s popular music, and some old Western atmosphere.  The show was a blast, and they turned the sports bar into a chamber of wind, dust, and heavy sounds, attracting those from outside the establishment.