Some groups are just so irresistible, you can’t help but root for them like they’re one of your own. He’s My Brother She’s My Sister is one of those groups whose cheeks you just can’t wait to pinch.
Besides having one of the best band names in recent memory (check out Faye Dunaway’s startling revelation to private dick Jack Nicholson in all-time favorite Chinatown to get the twisted reference), He’s My Brother She’s My Sister is a spunky rock ‘n’ roll quintet that knows how to win over an audience.
After a surprise guest appearance by the Lumineers' Neyla Pekarek (left) with her Denver pals in the Outfit, one of two supporting acts, that's what He's My Brother She's My Sister did on August 30, 2013, for their headlining debut in Boulder. And though the Fearless Fivesome didn't come close to filling the 625-capacity Fox Theatre (with only general admission bench seating along the outlying walls) on a Friday night in a college town, the enthusiastic reaction to their energetic, entertaining performance suggested
more people are working to solve this enigma of a band.
These fun folks really know how to throw a house party, and the shakin’-all-over teens and young adults crowding the main floor were living proof.
“It’s so wonderful to play a new city and get this kind of response,” said Rob Kolar, who shares lead vocals and the familial last name with sister Rachel, as they returned for an encore following a stomping version of “The Same Old Ground.”
We all come back again,
to the same old ground,
the one where we began
The catchy chorus to their hook-laden crowd-pleaser that even managed to get Craig Ferguson off his Late Late Show high horse in April (see the video here) should serve as a personal anthem for the Los Angeles group that has been together in varying configurations since they released a self-titled, seven-song EP in 2010.
Possibly trying to separate them from untold numbers of wannabes in the L.A. area, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister have been disguised, perhaps unfairly, as kind of a vaudeville, psychedelic gypsy, novelty act that marches to the beat of their own tap-dancing drummer.
Sweet Lauren Brown’s bouncy moves atop a big bass drum that introduce “Clackin’ Heels” will certainly get your attention, as will the flashy wardrobe of Rachel Kolar and wiry Oliver Newell, who plays a spiffy standup bass. But the pulverizing revved-up power behind their wall of sound can’t be denied either. (From left, Rachel Kolar, Lauren Brown, Rob Kolar.)
There’s also a range flexible enough to take on blues (set-opening “Coattails” from their EP) and recorded covers of hippie folk-pop (the Mamas and the Papas’ “Straight Shooter”) or glam rock’s finest holiday cheer (Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody”).
Adding a touch of All-Americana ingenuity to the mix, current lap slide guitarist Ryan Richter was a constant force throughout the entire set.
Such a vivacious live act should be impossible to stop, so maybe a breakthrough is on the horizon for Kolars & Co.
Over the last 10 months, they have had high-profile appearances at the Austin City Limits Music Festival (making a strong impression as essentially an opening act on opening day on the same stage where Esperanza Spalding and Alabama Shakes were to follow) and Bonnaroo, sold out L.A.’s famed Troubadour and supported Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros in the UK.
Concluding their Colorado run this Saturday (September 7) with a free performance at the Tour de Fat’s finale in Denver, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister certainly have hit-making potential.
Their first full-length record, Nobody Dances in This Town, was officially released on January 22 (Park the Van Records), and nine of its 12 songs were included in Boulder’s hourlong set, with the majority of them creating fist-pumping fury.
Handling most of the onstage chatter, Rob Kolar brought a sturdy John Doe-like delivery to “Electric Love” (“This is a love song for the ladies — and the transexuals,” he said), “Touch the Lightning” and an earnest “Let It Live Free” (Some say the change is coming / I say it's already here).
Rachel Kolar’s purring vibrato was almost as sexy as her gorgeous white dress with fringe benefits attached (outdone only by the sleek catsuit she wore in Austin, at right) as she tore through “Let’s Go,” “Slow It Down” and “Tales That I Tell.” The latter was the opening cut of their 2010 EP that deserved the second chance it gets as the opening cut on Nobody Dances in this Town. After all, songs sometimes need to be nurtured along like wayward children.
Fronted by a pair of siblings who are gruffer than the Carpenters and tougher than the Osmonds, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister should be welcomed into more homes, too.
Just treat this undercover brother-and-sister act like members of your extended modern family.
Concert photos by Michael Bialas. See more of He’s My Brother She’s My Sister at the Fox Theatre in Boulder.