Brutus sounded massive at their packed Saint Vitus show — review
Belgium's Brutus released their excellent sophomore album Nest on Sargent House back in March, and they finally made it to NYC for a show at Saint Vitus last night (11/13), about seven and a half months after the album's release. That's probably not that long for an international band, but it feels like I've been waiting forever to finally see Brutus, and they delivered.
The show was sold out, and it was very packed -- it seems like a given that these guys will play a bigger venue next time in NYC, or at least two nights at a place like Vitus. The crowd seemed pretty diverse too, with everyone from leather-clad metalheads to indie rock fans in Merge Records shirts. It clearly wasn't just one scene of music fans that showed up for them, and that makes sense given the nature of Nest, which touches on several styles of music -- including various forms of punk, metal, post-hardcore, pop, and post-rock -- and can't really be pigeonholed into any of them. You could feel the genre-defiance coming across on stage last night too. Sometimes they came off like a hardcore band, other times they came off like Explosions in the Sky. Etc, etc. And whatever mode they were in, they clearly had the crowd in the palms of their hands. Standout tracks like "Cemetery" and "War" were met by huge cheers as soon as they started, lots of people sang along throughout the night, and you just got the sense that almost everyone in the room felt like this was a moment they'd been waiting for. And the band couldn't have seemed more grateful in return.
If Brutus do continue to make the jump to larger venues, they already seem ready for it. It's not everyday you see a heavy band in a metal/punk club like Vitus with a singer whose soaring singing voice fills the entire room on its own, but that's exactly what Stefanie Mannaerts did when she started the show howling over some ambient textures. From the get-go, they seemed like a band who are built for arenas (in a good way). And once the show really got going, they proved to be one of those bands where every individual member plays a noticeably crucial role, and is a noticeably skilled musician. Stefanie is not just a powerhouse singer but a beast of a drummer, and you don't often see someone combine those two talents the way she does. Guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden creates massive soundscapes with just one guitar, and bassist Peter Mulders keeps things heavy and driving while Stijn focuses more on atmosphere. I had a moment towards the beginning of the set where I wondered if they'd really take it to the next level with a touring guitarist to help flesh things out even more, but a few songs later the band really hit their stride and they sounded gigantic with just the three of them from there on out.
Brutus' tour continues in Philly on Friday (11/15) and then at Mexico City's Corona Capital on Sunday (11/17). After that, they tour Europe with Cult of Luna and then they play Roadburn 2020. If you get a chance to see this band, don't miss it. All dates here.
Planning For Burial opened last night's show. Check out some video clips and pics of both acts below...