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Concert Reviews

End of an Era? Smug Brothers at Spacebar – 5/20/17

Smug Brothers (l-r): Kyle Melton, Larry Evans, Brian Baker, Don Thrasher (Credit: J. Laicy / Music in Motion Columbus)

Amid the pouring rain of this past weekend, I found myself at Spacebar in Columbus. Little was I to know that this evening was possibly the last time we would see this current lineup of Smug Brothers.

I was told they had not practiced together since their show at the Big Room Bar in March (read our review of that show HERE). Was this a precursor to an official announcement by the band? Or, was this (hopefully) just some offhand remarks about the band going on hiatus?

Kyle Melton (Credit: J. Laicy / Music in Motion Columbus)

Be that as it may, they performed a tight set on Saturday evening in front of a rather sparse crowd.

Opening with the midtempo It’s Official Everywhere, the song had a heaviness to it driven by Larry Evans thumping away on his Rickenbacher bass. They rolled right into Concentration Lawns, with Kyle Melton’s emotion coming through loud-and-clear as he belted-out “Tell me what you were thinking…”

Transitioning directly into the next tune, they slowed the pace slightly with Truly Awake is a Mistake. The angst in Melton’s voice was palpable as Don Thrasher’s drums kicked into a higher tempo, with Evans’ bass and Brian Baker’s guitar riffing in-time with the backbeat.

Larry Evans (Credit: J. Laicy / Music in Motion Columbus)

The midtempo rocker It Was Hard to be on a team Last Night led directly into the tight My Little Crowd Pleaser, both of which were full of mellifluous melodies.

Hang Up is a song that should be all over radio, and it’s a shame that it is not. Attention local radio stations, you’re missing the boat by not playing this.

The slower, melodic Ruby Skate was next, before they cranked the pace with A Short Time and Teach Them a Slide. Thrasher counted the band into these two uptempo rockers, with Melton and Baker’s guitars driving the sound.

Brian Baker (Credit: J. Laicy / Music in Motion Columbus)

Baker added some very tasty riffs to Meet a Changing World, before they transitioned into the reflective Venus Out at Night as the evening began to wane.

With one member of the crowd pogoing at the front of the stage, the guitar-driven Investigative Years assaulted us with aural goodness.

They closed their set with a rocking version of their tune Talk at the Gates of August. Thrasher tattooed a “marching” beat on the skins, with the song carrying an almost melancholy feel to end their evening.

As I have stated previously, they have a more polished sound and tightness than does Guided by Voices. This is not a dig on GbV, but rather an observation of their live sound.

Don Thrasher (Credit: J. Laicy / Music in Motion Columbus)

With the band taking a bit of an extended hiatus for the foreseeable future, we can only hope that this was not the last time this lineup plays together. While nothing was said to me in an overt manner, different pieces of conversation throughout the evening lead me to believe that change may be afoot.

If this was the final appearance by this incarnation of Smug Brothers, they had a good run. One can only hope that we will hear more from the seminal Central Ohio rockers.

On a personal note, I struggled with whether to mention that this may have been the “end of an era” in regards to Smug Brothers. In the end, I decided that it needed to be chronicled as it unfolded, with the hope that more is to come from these four gentlemen ~ Rick

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  1. It’s Official Everywhere
  2. Concentration Lawns
  3. Truly Awake is a Mistake
  4. It Was Hard to be on a Team Last Night
  5. My Little Crowd Pleaser
  6. Hang Up
  7. Ruby Skate
  8. A Short Time
  9. Teach Them a Slide
  10. Meet a Changing World
  11. Venus Out at Night
  12. Investigative Years
  13. Talk at the Gates of August

Smug Brothers – Meet a Changing World


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