JEFF The Brotherhood @Dantes
With Moldy Castle and Diarrhea Planet
When someone mentions Nashville, Tennessee in reference to its notoriety as “Music City”, it’s easy t 2000 o assume that the Tennessee capital is merely an incubator for famous country musicians. However, as country music legends grow older, a new generation of Nashville Rock ‘n’ Roll is taking the spotlight.
JEFF the Brotherhood is comprised of two brothers, Jake and Jamin Orrall (yep, no Jeffs to be found). They were born into old Nashville music wisdom to their successful singer, songwriter, and producer father, Robert Ellis Orrall, who penned the country hits “I Couldn’t Say No” and “Boom! It Was Over” in the ‘80s. Naturally, the two grew up surrounded by not only a love of music but also the means to learn about the industry at an early age.
Jake and Jamin learned guitar and drums, respectively, and tooled around until they found a niche in the growing garage rock scene in their hometown. The two started a band in high school, first called The Sex, then JEFF, and finally JEFF the Brotherhood before their release of their LP, I Like You, in 2002. Since then, they have recorded seven studio albums, a live album at Jack White’s Third Man Records in Nashville, and a handful of singles and EPs. The group has started a record label called Infinity Cat Recordings and even co-produced their latest release, Hypnotic Nights, with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. On Saturday night, the stage at Dante’s was bathed in its infamous red spotlights, and became a showcase for not only JEFF the Brotherhood, but their friends, too.
The show’s opener, Moldy Castle, was an enigmatic, retro metal-inspired band whose face-encompassing hair was as loud as its gothic, stoner-metal vocals. If you can imagine a band that is equal-parts Judas Priest and Sisters of Mercy, you might have a rough idea of what they’re all about. Though there is little to no information about this band on the Internet, they look to be from Washington, so hopefully they will grace Portland with their presence again soon.
Diarrhea Planet, who beamed with pride upon the mention being an Infinity Cat-signed band “under the wing” of JEFF the Brotherhood, boasted an impressive four-guitar lineup that looked like a Fender advertisement along with bass and drums. Every guitarist also shared vocalist duties, bringing an array of styles from grunge to classic rock along with the occasional on-the-knees, Eddie Van Halen-esque shred. Though they truly looked like they had just ransacked a guitar shop, their onstage personality far surpassed their equipment.
When it was finally time for JEFF the Brotherhood to set up, the two brothers knocked back their tall boys of PBR from their spot in the front of the audience, sauntered up to the stage and switched on a fog machine. Between Jamin’s transparent drum set and Jake’s clear, custom-built, three-string guitar with “JTB” adorning the neck in iridescent letters, the fog and red spotlights were able to illuminate the two men and create an impressive pair of rock ‘n’ roll silhouettes.
Arguably, the best part about JEFF the Brotherhood’s music is its bare-essentials, garage-rock simplicity: Jake’s power chord-driving, heavy riff-slapping machine of a custom guitar and Jamin’s thrashing drum beats are enough to back the minimalist, no-BS lyrics about six-packs of beer, getting crushes on friends’ little sisters, trying to find a good apartment, and needing a ride home when you’re too drunk. You know – the essentials of life, sung by two brothers who have experienced it all together.
The two seemed very aware of the quality of fans they had on their hands and, though they are touring in support of Hypnotic Nights, they opted to fill their set list with songs from their earlier albums, Heavy Days and We Are the Champions. “We’re just gonna play a couple of new songs and then we’ll do some older ones!”, Jake said at one point. However, judging by the audience’s reaction to their new single, “Sixpack”, their fans loved all of their music, regardless of the JEFF-era it came from. Though they didn’t say much to the audience and instead decided to fill the maximum time with a full load of songs, the grins on their boyish faces spoke volumes of their appreciation. And besides: “Encores are lame, so we’re just gonna keep playing!”
The set concluded with their time-tested all-time fan favorite, “I’m a Freak”, which caused a frenzy in the front of the crowd and nearly every show-goer yelling along with the line, “I’m a freak, baby, on a losing streak!”, a line everyone can identify with at one point or another, especially when it’s coupled with power chords and a lot of feedback.
Make sure you catch these guys live soon, as they’re undoubtedly about to get a lot more expensive. Also: Thanks for the stiff neck from all the headbanging, dudes. It was worth it.