The recent conversation about funding cuts to community radio was met with much opposition. Much of the opposition came from the music community and bands, many of whom got their first radio play on community radio. It’s a pity that the cuts to community radio is such a real thing, because it’s bands like Brother Brad that are going to suffer the most without an outlet for the masses to hear their tunes.
Fronted by brothers Justin and Shaun, Brother Brad are a reasonably new entity, despite all members of the band having kicked around in previous acts once upon a time. With a Dub and Reggae vibe to their brand of alt-rock, the band brought their steeze to a packed house at the Union Hotel in Newtown on a rainy Thursday night.
Opening up the night was solo artist Sabrina Soares. With just her guitar and vocal chords, Soares eased her way into a thirty minute set with a few smooth acoustic numbers, most of which came from her debut EP, Plan A. It’s not uncommon for solo artists to struggle a little to fill the stage and grasp control of a room, especially when the crowd aren’t there specifically to see them. However, Soares absolutely smashed the set with her ridiculously catchy tunes, choruses and hooks. A definite stand out from her set was lead single, “Plan A”. Soares warmed the stage and crowd and really couldn’t have done too much more as a support.
Entering the stage right on 9:30pm, Brother Brad gave a quick welcome to the home crowd and got right into the swing of things with their first track “Gotta Be”. The upbeat reggae/rap on the track was a little bit reminiscent of early Sticky Fingers mashed up with Flight Of The Conchords’ “Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros”. Sharing vocals between Shaun Bradley, on lead guitar, and Justin Bradley on vocals, the set was off to a fire start just as the trumpet made its first appearance. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of a horn and brass section, and Brother Brad brought the goods with both trumpet and trombone making appearances through out the set. It was aural gold; pure and glorious.
Next up was “Digital Revolution”, a commentary on people’s obsession with social media and their attachment to their phones. A definite dub feel to the track, “Digital Revolution” is a track you’d play in the kitchen on a Wednesday night whilst cooking dinner, as you attempt to get your reluctant partner up for a dance; only to then burn the shit out of the mince meat on the stove top as you get a little bit carried away while dancing.
“Be A Man” followed “Digital Revolution”, as Justin got the ladies in the crowd’s attention with a lyric about them wanting his body. While it wasn’t confirmed if all the whistles were from his Mum, he was more than happy to take the compliments. “Already Over” was the first slower track of the night, while “Days Are Sweet” had a definite Elton John “Circle Of Life” feel to it.
A fan favourite and throwback, “Doggy” was the biggest track of the set, with its extended guitar intro and thumping bass drum. With the lyric “I’m not talking about my baby, I’m talking about my dog” being the main hook of the chorus, you’d be barking mad to think the song was about sex. With the first bass-walk of the night coming from Adam Green, the set was letting rip, and the crowd couldn’t have asked for more.
Surprising the crowd with a cover of The Kooks’ “Naïve”, the night hit its peak as they followed “Naïve” with fan favourite “Chosen Way”. The reappearance of both horns only added to the track. Closing out the main set with “Get Around”, the band broke it down as each band member took their chance to have a cheeky little solo. Welcoming the calls for an encore, the band closed out on “Born Free”, a track where both trumpet and trombone took control and some scatting became the main form of lyrics in the closing of the song.
For a debut headline set, this was more a party. The crowd loved it, the band loved it, and the temperature gods definitely loved it (it was bloody hot in the Union). It would be a sad state of affairs if community radio were to be shut down. While it would definitely cut down on the opportunity for plenty of people to start their media careers, it would only prove to be a further obstacle for bands to get their first break. And for acts like Brother Brad, it is this type of break that could well and truly lead to bigger and better things. They were on fire. It should only be the police and firemen stopping them.