Despite phenomenal consistency on stage and having an insanely loyal fan base, Seattle’s Blood Brothers have often played supporting act in their near-decade-long existence. Their fans frequently make the effort to see them perform (often leaving before the headliner takes the stage), and the Brothers rip it up at every show and then chug along to their next supporting slot. The Seattle quintet’s November 30 stop at L.A.’s Henry Fonda Theatre was barely an exception: Even as co-headliners, the Blood Brothers were given the earlier set. They had the task of filling their large stage more effectively than opener Celebration whilst keeping things tidy before Trail of Dead’s Jason Reece would set out to destroy the space with his massive hands.
Typically, Blood Brothers get by on the energy of violent cream puffs Johnny Whitney and Jordan Blilie, who’ve got a method that’s yet to be matched by anyone more skilled than Idiot Pilot. They’d sashay across stages in declaration of vocal high-fashion, almost competing with one another while pacing between screams. But the energy was balanced a bit differently this time around, and the Blood Brothers appeared bigger men than usual, and even a little hairier: Bassist Morgan Henderson went for the Kyp Malone look, and Whitney’s Einstein coiffure added testosterone to his low-slung belt and neck bandana. Einstein, that little cutie pants.
And shit, Whitney’s risen above his band since Crimes. Yeah, he’s the most vocal member of his band, but in keeping his feet glued near stage’s edge during his entire wriggly strut, he came off as more demanding than usual — simply livid and diva-licious. Meanwhile, Blilie kept his back to the audience and comfortably hung around drummer Mark Gajadhar (who also played drums during Celebration’s opening set and whose munched sticks now reside in my bedroom). Whitney put his fidgety hands to use during “Peacock Skeleton with Crooked Feathers” and new track “Laser Life,” failing to draw the same excited reaction from behind his keyboard as when he presented a full view of himself. And though typical L.A. fashion dictates that crowds don’t dance, the participant-friendly double clap kicking off “Love Rhymes with Hideous Car Wreck” got the audience out of its collective shell.
That shell cracked a little during Burn, Piano Island, Burn favorite “Cecilia and the Silhouette Saloon,” as well as “Love Rhymes” and “Set Fire to the Face on Fire,” which really aren’t surprising favorites, given the allure of choruses like “Fire! Fire! Fire!” or “Love! Love! Love! Love! Love! Love!” Pay no mind to catchiness, though; the Blood Brothers are nearly impossible to sing along with in any medium, so regardless of how fashionably still the young audience opted to be, what mattered most here was that the Brothers continued their usual pattern of consistent energy. Their live shows always transcend the idea of “good material, bad material” because they put complete effort into every live set, balancing the more effeminate tracks with throat-stripping attitude and hardcore songs with those wiggly struts. This show was no exception, showing the group to be worth more than its usual supporting role, whether that exaggerated sass is ironic or not.