The Future Looks Bright for the Belle Brigade

November 15th, 2013

The Belle Brigade – Mercury Lounge – November 14, 2013

There’s something satisfying about hearing live music that’s new to the audience and the band, which is what happened last night at Mercury Lounge as the Belle Brigade premiered several songs off their upcoming album, Just Because, to a lively crowd. Fronted by brother and sister Ethan and Barbara Gruska, with Keith Karman on bass, they’re excellent live, thanks to their ability to make every song seem like a casual conversation. That the Gruskas are children of singer-songwriter Jay Gruska and grandchildren of renowned composer John Williams adds a layer of intrigue to the music, but it isn’t the ruling factor. Sure, these siblings possess the musical prowess that runs in their family, but it’s their onstage chemistry that makes Belle Brigade’s infectious music so vibrant. Barbara and Ethan’s relationship is clearly filled with plenty of trust and collaborative creativity.

First and foremost, Belle Brigade’s music is spontaneous, and their live set does wonders to reinforce the quirky chemistry Barbara and Ethan have when performing together. While they might not do absolutely everything together, like in the video for “Where Not to Look For Freedom,” the Gruskas obviously spend a lot of time together. The trio opened with “Ashes,” their forthcoming sophomore album’s first track. “Where Not to Look for Freedom” and “Losers” followed with jaunty harmonies and sentimental lyrics. Barbara and Ethan thanked the audience for giving the new music a chance before launching into three new songs in a row. “Oh my goodness! It’s ‘My Goodness,’” said Barbara as those in the audience giggled and the trio launched into the honky-tonk number.

“Metropolis,” “Stone” and “Miss You in My Life” filled out the rest of the set and led into one last new song called “When Everything Was the Way It Was,” before they returned for a brief encore, playing crowd-favorite “Rusted Wheel.” Keep an ear out for Just Because and catch the Belle Brigade live if you get the chance. Their new live set will only get stronger as they test out the new songs on more audiences. The band’s chemistry, harmonies and hooks are only getting better, which bodes for a bright future for the Belle Brigade. —Schuyler Rooth