You’d think that with their admirable success over the past three years, Brass Bed would be just a little complacent with themselves. However, even after having had the pleasure of sharing the stage with the likes of indie big wigs The Walkmen and releasing last year’s shimmering chamber pop epic, Melt White, the on-stage demeanor of this notoriously restless and hard-working Lafayette-based indie pop band beams with such a transience that it’s almost impossible to anticipate just how phonically brilliant Brass Bed will be on any given night.
Admittedly, nothing about Melt White suggests that Brass Bed aren’t exactly where they currently need to be. Formerly signed to Philadelphia/New Orleans-based label Park the Van, which sported an extensive roster of similarly twee artists, they seem to comfortably embody the three R’s of indie rock: Revivalism, Reverence and Restraint. If Melt White was nothing else, it was a great indie record; but it was also decidedly indie – though that designation does the band little justice after last Friday night. Because while it may seem easy to define this apparently dreamy chamber pop band as the sum of their recorded parts, I can assure you that you have not heard Brass Bed until you have heard them follow a gear-trashing set by New Orleans experimental noise duo High In One Eye.
At the palindromically scheduled release party for the inaugural Chinquapin Records Compilation on November 11, the invitation to perform on a bill between the aforementioned math rockers and heatseeking Sun Hotel side project Native America no doubt brought with it a lofty assignment – though one that the members of Brass Bed seemed more than up to the task of fulfilling with a calculous, yet raucous, live prowess. While the dingy, decaying confines of Saturn Bar all but require a musician to step out of his comfort zone and deliver a set as oracular as it is becoming of the scene Saturn represents, drummer Peter DeHart deftly balanced a penchant for understated rhythmic tenderness with the necessity of creating a gritty backbone to Andrew Toups’ bouncy, effect-laden keys. The result was an ambiance of dark, sweaty psychedelia that allowed the front duo of Johnny Campos and lead vocalist Christiaan Mader to fully realize their subtle XTC and Television influences as if the muscular bass work of Spoon’s Rob Pope was bracing the scratchy guitar picking of A Ghost Is Born-era Jeff Tweedy.
With a technical perfection matched only by a fluid, unassumingly titanic stage energy that had otherwise mild-mannered audience members raving for days after, this humble four-piece gracefully proved both that their success up to now has been no accident and that on this night Brass Bed could have easily been one of the best rock n’ roll bands in the entire country.