The Belle Brigade's talent rings loud and clear at ACL
I love nothing more than going to see a band and having low expectations—or, in this case, no expectations, because I’d never heard of them—and leaving there a fan eager to part with my money to buy their music or go see another show. When that happens I feel like I’ve made a real find, and it happened this Saturday at the Austin City Limits Music Festival with The Belle Brigade. I hadn’t planned to get to Zilker Park until about 2 pm Saturday, when my friend texted me and said I should go earlier and check this band out, and I’m so glad I did.
There is something magical about familial harmonies. Combined with the energy that brother and sister Ethan and Barbara Gruska and the rest of The Belle Brigade brought to the Honda Stage Saturday, the mix of multi-layered tunes and endearing stage presence made me an instant fan. The band has a folky-bluesy-country-pop feel, with a roster of songs that are a mix of thought-provoking and uplifting tunes.
The talented siblings are backed by an equally impressive band, which includes Bram Inscore (bass), Blake Mills (electric guitar), Aaron Arntz (piano) and Mike Finnigan (organ). The band sang two songs that especially struck me because of the lyrics: Ethan introduced the first by saying, “This next song is called ‘Shirt’ and uh….it’s about a shirt.” It’s really about much more than a shirt and the harmonies on this song are beautiful. The other song that really moved me is called “Losers”.
It starts like this:
There will always be someone better than you
Even if you're the best
So let's stop the competition now
Or we will both be losers
And I'm ashamed I ever tried to be higher than the rest
But brother I am not alone
We've all tried to be on top of the world somehow
'Cause we have all been losers
Yes, I guess we all have. Near the end of their 45 minute show, Ethan mentioned that the songs they were playing are from their first record (which came out in the spring). Sister Barbara corrected him and said, “Our first record, so far.” I certainly hope so. If you missed seeing this talented band at ACL, they will be back in the live music capital on October 20th at Emo’s with Grouplove.