Having attended Loufest three years straight and seeing shows varying from Bruno Mars to TWENTY ØNE PILØTS, I can honestly say that the Brick + Mortar concert on Oct. 14 was one of the strangest musical events I have ever been to.
After lining up outside the tiny, cramped and out of the way venue, doors finally opened at 7 p.m. and relieved the crowd of their wait in the gloomy weather. Rock music played quietly over speakers throughout the Firebird on beat with purple and blue lights flashing from the stage. Set up with only a microphone, drum set and a large white dividing sheet, the tiny stage was cramped with equipment.
For the next hour the venue filled considerably with fans, most of whom claimed to be there only for Brick + Mortar. Eventually the opening band, This City of Takers, began performing to an unfortunately statue-like crowd.
This City of Takers is a punk band playing rock’n’roll music, a combination that did not seem to be a crowd pleaser. Their sound of post-punk rock music has them sounding similar to smaller bands such as the Replacements or Fugazi.
It was obvious to everyone in the venue that next to no one was enjoying themselves during their set. The crowd, consisting of more than 200 people, stood eerily still while the band, looking forced, performed and attempted to ignore the lack of enthusiasm the audience was giving. There was no identifiable chemistry between the band and their music was so drastically different from the main act that would be performing that it set everyone back on their heels. I was unmeasurably thankful when their set only lasted 30 minutes.
With almost no time in-between bands, Brick + Mortar quickly took the stage. The band projected a video onto the sheet behind them consisting of alien-like people with a starry background before beginning their set with one of their most popular songs, “Keep This PLace Beautiful.” Strange, cartoonish videos with various aliens and monsters continued to play, setting a chaotic but at the same time peaceful mood.
Brick + Mortar are an indie-pop duo from New Jersey, whose music is consistently described as “controlled chaos”, since their concert performances almost always include props and videos and stories that create an entirely unique concert experience.
After moving quickly through more popular songs such as, “Terrible Things,” “For Yellow Walls” and “Locked in a Cage,” lead singer Brandon Asraf and touring member Richie Brown exited the stage and quickly returned in costume. Brown wore metallic green spandex, a cape and a goblin mask, while Asraf was wearing his version of a grim reaper costume, complete with a black cape and plastic scythe to go with their latest song, “Dead Moon.”
Following that performance, Brown went on to share a recent dream he had had involving Asraf. “[My friend Willard] took me to the fifth dimension where I saw all these worms, Brandon. There was you, and then all these other worms, and the only difference between you and all the other worms is that those worms were made of change,” Brown was motioning to the audience when his story was ended by Asraf taking the microphone from him and proceeding to tell a much more amusing story of his father, an apparent international diamond smuggler.
After ending a 45 minute set, a majority of the crowd left the stage to buy merchandise and meet the band. Asraf, Brown and Tacon stood outside for over an hour meeting with fans. In fact, their meet and greet went so long that by the time people returned to the venue, the next band’s set was already half over.
The Get Up Kids are an American indie-rock band known for touring with bands like Green Day and Weezer. Their show in St. Louis was the last stop on the addition of their 20th anniversary tour. The band had very rehearsed and casual stage presence that the remaining audience seemed to really appreciate.
After the first few songs it was clear that most people were simply there for the show and not the music. Although they have multiple hit songs, like “Holiday” and “Overdue,” it seemed like fans were merely there to dance to the music they produced.
Unlike both This City of Takers and Brick + Mortar, The Get Up Kids added a third experience to the overall show and provided many of the young adults crowding the venue with a sense of nostalgia for their teenage years, sounding like an older and quieter version of Knuckle Puck, a popular punk band.
In the end, I believe one of the best qualities to have as a band is to be able to genuinely interact with the fans, whether it be through humor, heartfelt conversations or concert experiences unlike any other, and Brick + Mortar certainly knew how to do that. They were comforting and friendly with fans and seemed very relaxed and joyful on stage, creating a nearly perfect concert atmosphere. If you ever get the chance to see Brick + Mortar, or a band similar to Brick + Mortar, take it, you won’t regret it.