The Bravery


October 29, 2005


I went into Voodoo ’04 knowing very little about the Killers. I was only vaguely aware of “Somebody Told Me," and “Mr. Brightside” was still an album cut. I had my preconceived notion, though: dancey fay synth-pop driven by an image. I knew I wasn’t going to like them.

And I was right. They didn’t do it for me (truth be told, I was in the minority on that one). Somewhere near the middle of their set, though, they played “Mr. Brightside” and my ears perked. Ah, what sweet saving grace that song is for that band. They endeared themselves to me with that one song, and I went away with a bit less hatred for the Killers than I thought I would.

I went into Voodoo ’05 knowing roughly the same information about The Bravery; dancey synth-pop, image, etc. I had read that Brandon Flowers of The Killers had called them inauthentic(irony is so hot right now), and I knew that they were mega-popular. Once again I witnessed song after song of boring, angst-driven dance music. Since when is pop music
such a drag? Singer Sam Endicott looked like he had been forced on stage at gun point at his best moments. “It’s okay,” I told myself as the set dragged on and my patience for Endicott’s emotional outbursts waned. “They’re saving their ‘Mr. Brightside’ for last.”

Now let me clear up one thing: The Bravery is a talented band. Endicott crooned (and I know that that’s an overused word, but it hasn’t been
this relevant since Sinatra) and cracked like this year’s Alex Kapranos, who was last year’s Robert Smith. They are all quite good at their
instruments, and are a very tight group. They started and stopped their 1, 2 rhythms with machine-gun precision, sending most of the crowd foot-stomping and bouncing. The problem was in the songwriting and attitude of the band. The group plays upbeat music, but Endicott spent the time between songs muttering various meaningless depressing one-liners (“This song is about when you get so fed up you want to kick the world.”) What’s the point? What does that even mean? You were in a ska band, dude. Cheer up.

I really want to like these bands. I do. I champion the return of angular guitars and emotion(albeit maudlin) to mainstream pop. If kids have to listen to something easy to swallow, I'm glad that it's bands like The Bravery and The Killers and Franz Ferdinand and not Limp Bizkit, Korn, and Linkin Park (please please please tell me that people
don't listen to the LP anymore). I just can't be drawn in to their sound without hearing the references to the same tired groups: New Order, the Cure, Joy Division, et al. Those are all classic bands who made great music, but these new bands need to build on that foundation. Or maybe dance-rock/darkwave is just so limited a genre that an apex has been
reached. Either way, it's better to hear the Bravery on the radio than Staind.

The set seemed to be losing steam with no salvageable song in sight. Drummer Anthony Burulcich started kicking a new beat, though. Finally! An original thought! Bassist Mike Hindert bounced in with a line that rolled all over the Fly and ended up somewhere across the river. Yes! This is it! The moment I’d been waiting for! Thank you, The Bravery! A great dance-pop song! I knew you had it i—wait, what? What the hell was that chorus? Did he really just sing “Stop, Drop, Roll, You’re on Fire?” Did he REALLY do that? No he didn’t. He did? Oh. Well, that’s that.

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