Things That Rock: The Felice Brothers

Welcome to our new column, Things That Rock. Sometimes there's just so much damn rock going on that we can't get to everything we want to in a timely fashion. That sucks because it means there's some really good music that we just don't get the chance to talk about. WELL NO MORE.

Things That Rock is our new official blow off valve. Sometimes it will be a review of a show that deserved more mention than we gave it, sometimes it will be simply a band that we love and are just now finding the time to tell the world about it. Whatever it is, it has to meet one criteria and one criteria only: THAT IT ROCKS. So keep your eyes peeled for the column, and without further ado, here.we.go.

Touring in support of their latest album, Celebration, Florida, New York based band The Felice Brothers made a stop at The Black Cat a few weeks ago. Historically, the bands music has been at sort of dark glance at a Gothic America that is just outside of what most people know as everyday life. Their songs owe as much to Dylan as they do to the carnival barker personality of Tom Waits, and until now they’ve respectfully, if not purposefully, stayed well within the musical boundaries that those two artists would suggest. 

The Felice Brothers have always had an edge to them. A bravado. But they've never given any indication that they would become the indomitably fearless band that they seem to have become. The Felice Brothers these days seem have become unhinged in the very best of ways. It was clear from the start that while they may be operating inside some weird genre of folk rock, the old rules no longer apply.

At times lead singer Ian Felice seemed to be less singing than howling like some feral animal. It’s an energy that flows through the band as a whole, and makes for some damn exciting rock and roll. On record, the material from Celebration, Florida tends to sound more like a band that isn’t quite sure of their direction, but live it quickly became clear that these were the songs of a band who just didn’t give a f@#@ anymore.

Boundaries can be a bitch when you’re in a band, and if the raw energy that the Felice Brothers are bringing in their performances this tour are any indication, they’ve chosen to deal with those boundaries by simply smashing right through them.

To be fair, they haven’t completely abandoned their old ways. The set was most certainly front loaded with the newer material, leaving the classics like “Whiskey In My Whiskey”, “Take This Bread”, and “Frankie’s Gun” for a more warmed up, more lubricated crowd later on in the evening. It’s a savvy move on the bands part, and one that ensured that the excitement they created in the first part of the set would carry over with ease into the back half of the evening.

All said and done this is a band that you need to see NOW. If I their ambition is even the smallest bit matched by their growing popularity in the next few years The Felice Brothers are on track to be one of the biggest and most important acts in music today. And the best part is that they are going to get there the old fashioned way: By playing their hearts out to whoever and how many ever will listen.

Check out our shots from the Black Cat show by clicking the image below, and be sure to catch The Felice Brothers, who are out on tour right now, as soon as you possibly can.

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