Jan 31, 2014

Brother George at The Double Door on 1/25/14

It was a cold and wintery night (sub-zero and snowing), one of many we have been subjected to during this fabulously arctic Chicago winter.  There has to be a compelling reason to leave your warm home and venturing out required having something worthwhile in mind to do.  I was able to convince my Bucktown buddy, Amy, to take a risk with me to see the band Brother George at Double Door.  It was a great opportunity to get together and grab a delicious meal at Taxim, almost next door to the venue.   I highly recommend this restaurant if you are out in Bucktown/Wicker Park and you would like some gourmet Greek sustenance before venturing to the grungy rock'n roll confines of the Double Door.   By all means have the pork belly and if feeling really decadent (I did 15 extra push-ups to justify this earlier in the day), have the fried duck rolls (they call them duck gyros) with duck fat drenched (I can only assume) french fries, and for good measure and healthy balance, the grilled calamari and roasted beets.  For the record, that fat enriched duck and fries entree was worth every high caloric bite.  The Greek house wine was good also.

We found our way to the venue with three songs left in the set by Johnny Drake, a band in the contemporary blue grass genre, complete with banjo.  I love me a good banjo.  They also had two female back-up vocalists which tends to sway me in a favorable direction.  They managed to also do a fabulous Talking Heads cover to boot.  I would like to see a full set down the road sometime.  We arrived at the Double Door around 9:30pm.   The duck fat laced "crack" fries impeded our judgement and delayed our departure from Taxim since we could not leave before cleaning the plate.

Now onto the main event:

For your listening pleasure, Brother George performing "How Long is This Gonna Take" at Double Door (I am honestly just taking a stab at the song's title since I did not have a set list):

Brother George is a Wicker Park based Chicago Indie Rock Band.  Band members Zane Ranney (drums), Neal Neumann (bass, vocals), Ryan Culbertson (guitar, vocals), Sagan Jacobson (guitar, vocals) and Joe Lieske (keyboard, percussion), live together in an apartment in Wicker Park.  The original band formed in 2007 but the current members have been together for about a year.  One of my favorite new bands, LA Electro-Sould group Electric Guest, snatched the founding member Tory Dahlhoff.

Coinincidentally, my kids sitter told me that his buddy was walking by their practice space in Wicker Park while they were jamming.  He yelled up to them "hey you guys sound great!" and they threw a Big Piney CD out of the window to him.  Apparently he has been listening to it and has a few favorite songs now.

Brother George has retro folk rock influences and harmonic tones with a garage band edge.   One of the songs played had a decidedly Hendricks/Plant feel to it.   The lead vocals, mostly performed by Sagan Jacobson, are clear and the song hooks and verse allow for sing-along possibilities.  Sagan is a good choice for the band's frontman with his boyish good looks and talent.  My personal favorite is the song "Place" which can be streamed along with the rest of the their Big Piney CD online on the bandcamp website.  The music they have written is not formulaic.  Each song has it's own distinct flavor and tone varying from melodic ballad to good old fashioned rock.  There is a sensitivity to the lyrics and each song tells a different story.  The lyrics are also posted on the website and are left for your interpretation.  I can look forward to walking through Wicker Park one day with the hope of having a Big Piney CD thrown at me or maybe I will just download it from the website.  They have it digitally available for under 5 bucks.

Insider Tips:

The Double Door is a great neighborhood spot, great acoustics if you are listening from downstairs.  Upstairs has tables and chairs if you need to sit but the acoustics are mediocre at best.  The venue is small but the type of place that you can watch the band up close and personal.  The crowd is a drinking crowd and generally ready to party.  We were surprised to have such an accommodating waitress offer us bottled water at no charge (we tipped her of course).  She found us later on and made sure we were hydrated.  At one point we were upstairs at a table and she came up to clear the few empty bottles that were residing there. Now that is great service, I would go back just for the water.  Parking in Wicker Park is zoned or metered.  You will be ticketed if you do not have a zone sticker or pass.

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