The Belle Brigade: The Satellite, Los Angeles, CA 6/10/11

The future is bright for Barbara and Ethan Gruska.  After playing to a solid and welcoming hometown crowd, it is without a doubt that the solid growth of their success will continue to grow after embarking on a summer tour.  The rest of the tour kicks off in Canada and continues throughout the East Coast, the South, and back home to the West Coast.

It has been an awesome ride since their Monday night residencies at the venue formally known as Spaceland.  Regardless of venue name change, the folks in the hipster neighborhood of Silverlake and the greater Los Angeles area filled the room with an appreciation that was twofold.  Surrounded by old friends and new fans, being at this Belle Brigade show was like being part of a very large and delightful family.

They started the set with “Lucky Guy,” off of their self-titled debut album.  It was followed by “Belt of Orion,” and the catchy, “Sweet Louise.”  Barbara was tickled by the way they closed this particular song and exclaimed, “The end makes me feel like Conan O’Brien!”  Her impression of the talk show host drew warm laughter from the crowd.

“Shirt,” the track that Ethan simply explains as “a song about being a shirt,” quickly followed.  Singing that “no one is gonna wear me out,” the lyrics are surprisingly powerful and filled with metaphorical images that compare a simple everyday object with a person’s feelings and emotions. Barbara then introduced the percussion skills of Mike Green and after referencing his apparent foot fetish, engaged the crowd in an impromptu freestyle jam – a fun, and affectionately titled,  “Look at my feet, yeah!”

The silliness was adorable, and an indication that the band wanted their crowd to be as comfortable and as happy as they were on that stage at that moment.  Playing at The Satellite was a perfect way to begin their summer tour.  The familiarity of home served as the perfect boost of energy for their anticipated and busy summer tour schedule.

Other tracks from their debut album were performed, such as “Lonely Lonely.”  “Where Not to Look for Freedom” followed after yet another quick freelance jam (this time titled, “Listen to My Jam!”) and brought Barbara behind the drum set.  Watching her play the drums is always enjoyable, as she has been a sought after drummer in Los Angeles for a few years.

After performing the soulful, “My Goodness,” they brought out guitarist Blake Mills for a couple of new songs titled, “Happy,” and “Likely to Use Something.”  The introduction to “Rusted Wheel,” provided enough time for Barbara to introduce the rest of the band.  The other members are Aaron Arntz (keyboard), Keith Karmen (bass) and Alex Silverman (electric guitar).

“Losers,” the track that has garnered the most attention off of their self-titled debut closed the set.  It was the perfect way to end a fun night.  The Gruskas were having a blast and are more than ready to hit the road running.  Kicking off their summer tour with a show at home was just what they needed. 

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