Whenever I hear the words "anthem" and "sold out" mentioned in the same sentence, I get a little tingle in my chest. This Saturday, that tingle became a full body rattle, as Indie rock hot shots Mt. Joy brought out one of the biggest crowds I've seen under The Anthem's roof; it was made strikingly clear this night, not all sold out shows are created equally. Opening up for the superstars were a band I've had my eye (and ears) on for a good while now, The Brook & The Bluff.
I don't remember how I found out about The Brook & The Bluff; but I know it's been months and I haven't stopped thinking about them since. Hit single "Halfway Up" lives rent free in my head and honestly, I'm not mad about it. I don't know any other band that sounds like these guys; the way they blend shades of soul, r&b, blues, and Nashville-tinged indie rock feels singular. From where I stand, The Brook & The Bluff are quite simply one of one.
I have no doubt that vocalist Joe Settine is the coolest guy in every room he enters; and with the kind of footwork that'd make James Brown proud and a soul clearly well beyond his years, it's no surprise why. On top of that, the vocals are flawless; matched with immaculately crisp instrumentation from all other corners of the band; hearing these guys rock out live is downright surreal. There's an ease to their performance that just feels so present; it's as if we were all just sitting in on an epic jam session in the practice space, and everyone was welcome. One day soon, these guys are going to be trotting the globe as household headliners, and [hopefully with a camera in my hand] I plan on being there to see it all.
As it came time for Mt. Joy to hit the stage, the full crowd had amassed to fill every foot of standing space (bet that sounds familiar). Navigating that sea was a job in itself; the beautiful flip side however, reared its head as we fell deeper into the phenomenal headlining set. Though none of us could argue that Mt. Joy gets by just fine on the backs of their own music, it was the covers that ruled this night. From Pink Floyd to Grateful Dead, and even a little Phish, the homages were mint. The band’s renditions of Bill Withers essential “Ain’t No Sunshine” and Gnarls Barkley classic “Crazy” however, were top notch. I had no choice but to join in, as the entire crowd belted out the chorus to “Crazy” in sky-scraping harmony; it never ceases to amaze me the beautiful circumstances music can create.
I’m beginning to think I may be a bit spoiled when it comes to these concerts; as I can only speak for my own experience, I’ve yet to come across a band or artist that didn’t re-take the stage for an encore performance. It’s always insane to watch people rush for the doors as soon as the stars exit, as if we aren’t a generation raised on Marvel credit sequences; at this point it should be clear, it isn’t over till it’s over (and the house lights come on).
Saving the best for last, the night’s finale culminated with the band letting loose a flurry of Mt. Joy throwbacks, to the joyous delight of all still standing in wait. When the beat kicked in on 2020 standout “Strangers”, the whole crowd just about lost their minds. I mean, how cool is that? To wait and hope for that one song, and to suddenly have it thrust upon you just as the clock’s about to run out; I won’t try to compare it to anything else, but if you’ve felt it, you know. Twice more the big-time band blessed us all, with 2018 debut staples, “Jenny Jenkins” and “Astrovan” closing out the night with a heartwarming bang. As the thousands connected for one last harmony, I put my camera down, opened my ears and my heart, and let all the beautiful noise rush on in.
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