Out on tour again, post-rock road warriors O’Brother made their way to the Hawthorne Theater April 2, shaking the venue to its core with the mesmerizing musical assault led by guitarist-singer Tanner Merritt’s soaring vocals. The power packed, six-song performance featured new tracks from March 25 release Endless Light.
The new release finds the band in high gear, adventuring further into their dark, atmospheric rock that is equally harmonious as it is adventurous. Despite the band’s affinity for themes and titles enveloped in a dusky shroud, there is hope. And hope is the light at the end of the tunnel that calls forth the listener to endure the sorrow and disillusionment to make it to the other side.
Known for their heavy, yet melodically driven compositions, the Atlanta, Georgia based five-some consist of Merritt, Johnny Dang and Jordan McGhin on guitar, Anton Dang on bass, and Michael Martens on drums. Endless Light finds O’Brother collaborating with close friends and now producers Andy Hull and Robert McDowell of Manchester Orchestra, and Brad Fisher who was at the helm for their debut Garden Window.
In a power-packed, and all too brief 35-minute set, the band focused on new material from Endless Light. O’Brother featured the driving task master of “Bloodlines” that marched its demons to the end. Next was the locomotive steamrolling greed of “Your Move” that desperately howled with deceit and deception in an eerily romantic serenade.
With a quick glimpse into O’Brother’s tales of despair came the bold offering of “Deconstruct”. Lyrically graphic, the rhythmic drums and slowly strummed guitars are joined by other worldly angelic chorus lifting the bereft from the devastation of complete demise. All is literal and figurative, external and internal, and finds O’Brother at its pinnacle.
While pausing between songs to catch his breath and retune, Merritt rhetorically sensed the chill vibe in the crowd, commenting that it was “almost too chill”. And on any given night at the Hawthorne, that would be unusual for a Portland crowd, even during acoustic sets. But the audience was simply captivated in a mesmerized stillness and an amazed appreciation of O’Brother’s intense, sonic performance.
As their tour continues with Triple Crown Records label mates Adjy and Foxing, you can’t help but anticipate a return headlining tour allowing O’Brother to pull out all the stops and delve further into their catalog, shaking venue foundations and listeners musical core. Until next time, follow the thundering endless light.