Gig Review – Brasstracks at The Mezzanine

As I walked up to the Mezzanine, in the SOMA district of San Francisco, I was mildly surprised at how tucked away the venue was, despite being just near some very busy areas of the city. I arrived early and was able to watch the crowd slowly build just before the doors opened. As I squeezed inside, I could not help but be swept up by the masses of people around me. They were pumped to be there, and you could feel that energy in the air.

In the midst of their Vibrant tour, Brasstracks headlined, with support from Kemba, Pell, and R.Lum.R. Throughout the beginning of the show, I circled the open floor and the two upstairs bars, trying to find the best vantage point. As an opening act, Kemba (formerly known as YC The Cynic) seems to be on the way to his own headlining career. The crowd was obviously into his set, especially when singing along with his recent single, “Deadass.”

One of the best things about a Brasstracks show is that the opening acts are not relegated to the backstage after a short introductory set. Given the collaborative nature of their music, both Pell and Kemba would make appearances later in the main set. Brasstracks seems well aware that they are at their best when playing with others, both on their newly released EP, Before We Go, and when performing live. That is not to say, however, that they are uncomfortable on their own as the headliner.

The duo from New York are a bit of a rarity in today’s musical climate. Although they are talented producers, their main focus is playing their instruments, and that translates extremely well to their live performances. They are tied to their audience and interact with them, giving the shows an extra pop of energy. Brasstracks also uses a mixture of original material and covers, which again, involves the crowd, allowing people to feel involved even if you are new to their music. During this show in particular, there were covers of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, and the crowd was appreciative, screaming the lyrics out along with the band.

This show could have been bittersweet, as Mezzanine is closing in October, so this will likely be Brasstracks’s last performance at the venue. When they originally performed at Mezzanine, they were opening for Lido. On this night, they sold every ticket as headliners. But they did not allow that emotion to dampen the event. As usual, their set was full of energy and their willingness to engage with their fans absolutely set the tone and the mood for the entirety of the set.

As for the guests who performed with Brasstracks, Pell seemed to harness the energy of the backing music and the crowd with the most abandon. This was aided, of course, by Brasstracks directing the audience to bring him back on stage with a chorus of “Pell, Yeah!” that was impossible to ignore. R.Lum.R’s one moment on stage for the performance of Brasstracks’s recent single, “I’m Alright” was another highlight, and I for one, could have used more of him overall. Kemba seemed the most ill-suited for sharing the stage, but honestly, this is mainly because he is a force all on his own.  Brasstracks were clearly enjoying their time in San Francisco and the crowd was rewarded by all of the artists sharing the stage.

If this truly was Brasstracks’s final show at Mezzanine, they closed it out in style. They were able to balance taking the lead with their solo material and sharing the stage by putting artists like Kemba, Pell, and R.Lum.R. out front while still providing excellent backup and energy. The Vibrant tour still has several dates left, ending on March 9th. If you are lucky enough to be near one of the remaining shows, I highly recommend getting a ticket and enjoying this high energy, talented duo.

Stream the Before We Go EP, and grab tickets for Brasstracks here.

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