Fleur the Kiwi
Yes, they are really brothers! Shared genes and all!
Taking the stage last Thursday (Oct. 18) at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco as the opening act for Adam Ant and the Good, the Mad and the Lovely, the brothers were a fabulous study in contrasts. Shiny and sleek in an otter-grey suit, hair slicked back ’50s style, with two-tone red-and-black shoes and a smile that could charm a cat, João sidled up to the microphone, guitar slung across his body, while Supla — bleached-blonde spiked hair, a precarious-looking kilt made up of the Brazilian and UK flags (and sporran beneath), a wide sash draped over his left shoulder, knee-high red-and-white soccer (futbol) socks, and combat boots — strode to the drum kit … and the bothers launched into their own particular blend of Latin rhythms and old-school punk.
After a few original numbers that had the female-heavy crowd — many of whom were painted and adorned à la Adam Ant — dancing and cheering, Supla grabbed the mic.
“We are the Brothers of Brazil,” he said, to cheers. “We are real brothers! I am the punk one. My brother is bossa nova. Together we are punkanova.”
And then they treated us to a punkanova version of “Imagine” that was a fully worthy tribute to the original.
The Brothers had a sound that was bigger than it seemed two instruments should have been able to make (even if one was a drum kit hooked up to the PA system), including a bass guitar that I searched the stage (and the wings!) in vain to find. Papa Robert Hill, who plays fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and guitar for Dogwatch Nautical Band and was standing beside me, explained, but I couldn’t remember his explanation, so I asked him last night to write it down:
“The guitarist played every once in a while in a style known as alternating bass, in which the thumb of the picking hand alternates lines on the top three (low) strings while the rest of the picking hand strums chords on the top strings. He had a footswitch (whether an effects pedal or an AB switch, I’m not sure) which would allow him to flip from a clean acoustic sound to a heavily distorted electric guitar sound. Without talking to their soundman, however, this is pure conjecture on my part.”
So there you have it. Magic tricks with guitars and footswitches. If anyone knows the actual setup (João?), please tell us in the comments!
The Brothers of Brazil have apparently been around since at least 2009, when they released their first album, appropriately titled Punkanova. They have just released their third album, On My Way (I’m pretty sure that’s not a tribute to Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home”). Check it out!
And if you see them coming to a venue near you … buy your tickets and head out for a night of fab grooves and fantastic energy!