At concerts, we often find that one performer lacks or the bands don’t mesh well, but this line-up worked in a weird way that is difficult to make sense of. Johnny Delaware is predominantly folk, Tristen dabbles in punk, and Brave Baby comes off as an alternative/psychedelic rock band. This show hit a perfect trifecta. Each were strong and talented, generating a perfectly steady rise of energy throughout the night.
The first glorious chills of the night were provoked by Johnny Delaware, the first opener. I (Katie) can’t forget the moment he belted “Sweet Dreams,” revealing all of his teeth. In the peak of the long note, azul and orange lights crossed perfectly behind him. Johnny Delaware is a local folk legend who can best be described as a new-age Jesus. First of all, he has the classic long brown hair and beard. Second, his music boasts an ethereal feel, from his angelic yet manly voice to the reverberated, slowly bending electric guitar notes. But what I find most convincing is the expression of gentle concern he adorns whilst singing. Listeners can’t help but feel a connection with him. I had honestly never heard him before, but within a few songs he jumped high on my lists of folk music and local musicians. Listeners should know that his recorded music is less folk, conforming to the indie style one would expect from one of the top Hearts & Plugs musicians. Strangely, I preferred his live, stripped-down set.
Next, a dark goddess took stage in an intricate black lace button-up and a tight silver skirt. We first took Tristen for a doll due to her sweet soprano singing. (We also mistook her bassist for a Beatle with his old-fashioned hollow bass, straight dark bangs, and slim suit.) But then she began increasing the energy, and not to mention sex appeal, steadily. With a smirk, she implored the subject of her song “Heart and Hope” to “show me how your daddy and your momma made you.” At the end of the song, she demanded that he not make her beg, only to contradict herself by sinking to her knees. From this position on the ground, she laid down to begin her next song, a cover of “See No Evil” by Television for all the true punk fans. Before we knew it, this little doll was shrieking into the microphone and running all over the stage. It may sound like a bit much, but believe me, it was perfect. Honestly, she was perfect. Talking to her and her bandmates after the show, we experienced first-hand her dedication to her fans, along with her wisdom and encouragement regarding the music scene. She motivates fellow musicians to get down and dirty to achieve their dreams, regardless of the presence of a label or not.
It was homecoming for local music fanatics, including Katie and I. After being on tour for six months, the Charleston-bred band was back. Brave Baby is, for lack of a better term, Charleston’s baby. Born in the streets of downtown Charleston a short three years ago, they’ve blossomed into so much more. Their presence on stage is electric. The five-piece were as connected as ever, from what I (Emily) could tell at the front row. Keon Masters, the lead singer, was exciting to watch. The way he moved reminded me of Lorde, though much less alarming. It looked like he felt the music flow through him as shocks of electricity, which would be interesting to watch for someone who hasn’t seen them perform before. After seeing Brave Baby live at Jailbreak in early October, I expected it. I (Katie), on the other hand, was blown away by the difference. At JailBreak, they were certainly the best of the performers, but still just really good. I couldn’t even tell they had a psychedelic component, with the venue being outside in the middle of downtown. But at this show, with the perfect setting and all of their equipment–instruments and visuals included–they got to show their true fantastic colors.
Masters’ vocals are an entity entirely of itself. The range he is able to hit is noteworthy, and accompanied by the drummer, Wolfgang Zimmerman, who also sings and produces the band, they are able to create an otherworldly sound. Brave Baby’s sound can be described as a cross between psychedelic alternative and good ol’ rock and roll, reminiscent of Tame Impala. With synthesizers, hard drums, and electric guitars clashing, it makes sense why they were able to sell out the Music Farm. The Charleston show seemed to be the biggest they’ve had in awhile, of which the trumpet player, Adam Eddy, took advantage of as he threw himself into the crowd and was carried all the way to the back. Adam Eddy wasn’t the only special edition to the line-up. Along with the normal instruments, we also got a taste of Johnny Delaware’s little known talent, the bongos. Changed from his performance attire to just a pair of shorts (really, no shirt or shoes or anything), Delaware’s bongo playing added to the psychedelia in a way that we certainly didn’t expect. Being at the front, Katie and I felt every wave of energy emitting off the stage and the push and pull of the crowd through each song. The crowd was connected with the band in a way I haven’t felt before. We sang along to every song and jumped in unison to the beat. We held onto Masters as he leaned over the barricade to sing with the crowd. The band didn’t even pause before the two-song encore, which would have been begged for regardless. Brave Baby is one of those bands that you can see multiple times and never be bored of repetition, which is hard to come by. Lord knows we’ll do our best to see them, and both of the opening acts, again.
Emily Austin and Katie Beals