Kickin Brass (Live music review)
Rebirth’s Labor Was Short
(Originally written for Ticket Files, The Register-Guard, Eugene, OR)
April 11th, 2012
You know you’re getting old when you look nervously from your husband to your beer to your watch that reads 9:15 p.m. and think: “I thought the show started at nine. It’s getting so late.” But such was the scene in the basement of the WOW Hall on Thursday night (April 5) where 30 or so of my peers and I loitered about waiting for what we anticipated to be a great show; the Rebirth Brass Band’s return to Eugene.
The Revivalists opened the show with a beefy set of New Orleans swagger/rock tunes. Each song fell easily into a deep groove and after visiting their website, I learned that they’ve been touring since January. A band on the road for three months sure makes it seem easy, all right.
At 10:30 p.m. Rebirth took the stage and opened with “Grazing in the Grass,” a tune made popular by South African trumpet player Hugh Masekela. From there on, as far as I could tell, Rebirth played all original tunes breaking only briefly to tout their new Grammy Award winning album.
The sound at the WOW Hall was hot-hot-hot which, just in case you’re not familiar with music terminology, doesn’t always mean good-good-good. In this case it meant loud-loud-loud. We started toward the front of the hall, which was packed, but by halfway through the set lots of folks had moved back and a number of folks had left. Now, I don’t know much about running a sound board but I do know that brass players who make their living playing parade music in New Orleans can play loud if they want to and they don’t need much in the way of amplification in general, let alone in a room like the WOW Hall. I’m certain that working the board when a brass band comes to town is extremely difficult so I’m not criticizing without appreciating the challenges, however, it was difficult to hear most of the soloists, the sousaphone was a mere muddy footprint round the back door, and the trumpets damn near blinded me. But like I said before: I’m old.
But minor noise complaints aside, I love New Orleans music and the Rebirth Brass Band did not disappoint. The tunes were funky, tight and cooking. If you ever have the opportunity to see live New Orleans music, do. No matter who you are or what kind of music you think you like, you will like New Orleans music. Everyone does. It’s just that human.
Thursday night, everyone was shakin’ it at the WOW Hall. And we were ready to shake it all night but, to my surprise, at 11:30 p.m. the band stopped playing. They walked into the green room and they didn’t come back. Well, a few members did. I saw one holding his trombone case chatting at the side of the stage while the tech coiled cables. Another band member I overheard say: “someone stole my goddamn hat…right off the stage.” (What? C’mon, Eugene.) People hung around the hall, the doorways and the street for quite awhile after the band finished. The Huz and I left and then came back in case the band was just taking an extra long set break. I mean, an hour? That can’t be right. But it was. No dancing ’til dawn. No New Orleans Mardi Gras party vibe. Even the senior citizens were disappointed.
The Rebirth Brass Band is one of the funkiest groups you’ll see live. I can’t wait attend another of their shows. I just hope that I will be able to keep my eyes open long enough to see them take the stage, remember to bring my ear plugs, and to shake it while I still can. Life is too short for behaving oneself… and if this night is any indication, Rebirth Brass Band sets are even shorter.