August 30, 2009
BY JASON SONGE
I was sold on Downtown Brown when during their cover of Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something," lead singer/guitarist Neil P.
was reciting "Ma Ma Se, Ma Ma Sa, Ma Ma Coo Sa" while fake crying. I'm not sure exactly why it was funny, but I was laughing hard and happy these dudes from Detroit were at The Circle Bar.
The party rock trio were tight and composed of accomplished musicians I could see tackling Rush and Tool covers(drummer had a double bass). They certainly didn't take themselves that seriously, though. While changing mood and tempo(from death metal to reggae), Mr. Bungle style, Neil P. was likely to be singing about mullets, tanning salons, or werewolves. These guys were weird--Frank Zappa style.
Though it's been a while since I've needed a message of noncomformity, it was still fun to hear them rail against frats, Maxim Magazine, girls who go to tanning salons("Orange Bitch"), and the conformity of the noncomformists, The Warped Tour("Sit in the Pit"). That last one was probably the funniest. Neil P. went pre-puberty with his voice and became the character of a teenage boy trying to have a romantic evening with his girlfriend in the pit. A high point was when the band played rank John Mayer-type music while spouting some pretty offensive lyrics. And then how bout the time Neil P. played a dreadful solo, hitting all the wrong notes, just for comedy's sake? Too much good stuff happened.
Neil P. was a constant ball of energy. He made his mark when he got face to face with one audience member and contorted his face to say, "Look at this awesome solo I'm playing! How am I doin' it?! How amazing am I?!" At random points during the set, he got up close and personal with those at the bar he felt weren't paying enough attention.
Downtown Brown started the set by introducing themselves as the country's premier Sublime tribute band. Neil P. said, "This song is called 'Wrong Way.'" And then they went into some death metal.