by Annika Eske
On November 6th, The Brazen Youth performed for a young and enthusiastic crowd as the openers for the band flipturn. Energy was high; the venue was sold out. In spite of those cursed pillars that are always obstructing the view at Paradise Rock Club, the show did not disappoint.
The Brazen Youth, a trio from Connecticut, makes music with down-to-earth sentimentality. Rather than embellish, the band often starts with simple, honest storytelling that builds up into a more cinematic, instrumental-driven release. They embrace casual lyricism alongside poetry, and gentle, folksy strumming alongside theatrical keys or horns. When the band took the stage on Sunday, all of these elements of their sound were amplified and beautifully transformed to fit the live setting.
The band started off with “Spirit Finds Yours,” the first track from their latest album Eagle, Idaho. The crowd was cheering before the song even ended. At times, the vocals on tracks like “So Afraid,” took on a wonderfully raspy quality. The lyrics “Doin’ me, dirty / I want you to explore me” and “Make me, salty / I want to taste the ocean” were nearly shouted, and this vocal style gave many of the songs a surprisingly raw edge when heard live. Yet extra notes and harmonies in between also helped to make the vocals shine. “Changing” featured softer singing, and lead vocalist Nic Lussier added a few long ah’s that soared above the strong instrumental. Not to mention the tempo switch in the later half was met with sheer joy in the audience.
During one of the band’s most popular songs, “Center of Gravity,” the gentle, heartfelt words permeated the room. “If I was the center of gravity / Why would you let it all fall from me?” the band lamented. During the song’s buildup, which is normally entirely instrumental, Lussier sang some extra notes that perfectly complemented the rising intensity of the song. The march-style percussion then completed the escalation, eliciting cheers from the crowd before they immediately fell quiet again to hear Lussier sing the dreamy closing lyrics: “Someday, I’ll jump in this car / and I’ll drive to wherever you are, to meet me / to meet you.” Of course, the crowd didn’t have long to linger in this reverie. Other captivating songs were soon to follow, including the passionate “I Love It All,” after which one excited girl new to the band asked, “What’s the name of this group again?” She mistakenly typed in “the Raisin Youth” at first, but the other audience members were quick to help her out. The Brazen Youth closed their set with a cover of “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. Though this nostalgic 2000s cover came as an unlikely choice, it quickly turned into a wholesome sing-along, cementing the warm atmosphere established throughout the set.
The headlining band, flipturn, then took the stage and veered away from folk-rock and into the surf-rock/pop arena, reflecting their Florida roots. “This is a dream come true… this is insane… thank you!” said lead vocalist Dillon Basse, after pointing out that this was the band’s biggest headlining show yet. Every person in the audience seemed to be singing and knew each song inside and out. The vocals were smooth, and the music was upbeat and lively. Particularly memorable were “Chicago” and, in the encore, “August.” Being flipturn’s most well-known song, “August” was a force to be reckoned with. The whole crowd sang along, “We thought love was something / We weren’t meant to find / But don’t you remember? / August, honey, you were mine.” This final line of the longing-imbued chorus galvanized the crowd each time it came along: the audience of the show had transformed into a group of friends at a post-breakup karaoke session.
The Brazen Youth then joined flipturn on stage to dance around together for the conclusion of the encore. The camaraderie between the two bands was clear and their warmth towards each other seemed contagious. During their set, the Brazen Youth earnestly insisted that flipturn is “the best band,” and flipturn’s frontman returned the compliment saying, “I’m dead serious, I think they’re my favorite band,” of The Brazen Youth. Ultimately, there was dancing, there was hugging, and drumsticks were flung into the air. Both The Brazen Youth and flipturn gave a memorable and thoroughly fun performance.