Bridge To Grace / Brother Grey / Fusebox Poet
120 Tavern & Music Hall – Marietta, GA
January 24, 2014
Sometimes you just can’t let an opportunity go by. That’s roughly how my son & I ended up making a hurried trip from Athens to see local breakout band Bridge To Grace. Nearly everything about the evening ran counter to my usual “rules” for seeing a show.
I pretty much never hit a show late … but because of other obligations we missed the first band, Fusebox Poet, entirely. That’s 100 percent on me, not remotely a reflection on the Charlotte, NC three-piece that some sampling online leads me to believe I’d enjoy. I owe myself a chance to see them at some point.
Running even later than expected (isn’t that always the way?) we caught maybe a little more than half the set (5-6 songs, not sure how long they played) from Atlanta’s own Brother Grey. While they describe themselves as an “alternative/hard rock band”, at least the portion of the set we saw was squarely in the heart of what I usually label as “active rock”, certainly more emphasis on the hard than on the alternative (thank God). In fact, my biggest takeaway from their set was some philosophical musing about how narrow the line can be between “local/ regional band” and “national band” because I felt like everything I heard would fit seamlessly on SiriusXM Octane, every bit the equal of dozens of other bands that have enjoyed more exposure to date. The music business is a fickle mistress, seeing this band really brought that point home to me. Definitely someone worth seeing, hope to get another opportunity sooner rather than later.
Another of my standard “rules” is that I don’t see too many bands that I don’t have a pretty good understanding of. I prefer to know what to expect, I dig up whatever is out there, I do my research. Given that I’m usually feeling every bit of my age (and then some), I’m not a fan of disappointments and I’m skeptical of surprises, I like to be relatively sure what I’m going to see. With that in mind, it says something about how strong an impression that the debut single from Bridge To Grace had made on me. “The Fold” made an immediate impact from the first time I heard it on Octane, that in turn led to some searching & no small amount of surprise to discover that they were an Atlanta band. As it happened in this case though I was largely content to enjoy the single and didn’t do a lot of digging beyond that, satisfied to give them a little bit of social media love and see if I could help in some small way to keep the momentum going.
Still, the prospects of a CD release party, at extremely reasonable price, for a most welcome All Ages show … I kept wondering whether I could really pass that up. After finally checking out some more material via their ReverbNation page (and with encouragement from my teen) I decided to pull the trigger and go.
Okay, so maybe once in a while surprises work out well.
Thanks to both “The Fold” and tracks like “Bitch” (which Octane ought to add at some point, single or not) I knew there wasn’t going to be an issue with the band keeping things moving. What I didn’t expect was just how smoothly they’d manage that. It’s almost shocking to discover that this foursome has only been together as a unit for a couple of years. Clearly a lot of work has gone into developing such a coherent, yet diverse, overall product.
Drummer Justin Little is relentless while Christian Lowenstein seems to get in a zone on bass immediately and they combine to give the band a solid foundation to build everything upon. On guitar Alex Cabrera is one of the most deceptive performers I’ve seen in a while, young man plays a LOT nastier than he looks, with moments that are almost jaw-dropping. On the mic David Garcia has everything you need and then some but the secret weapon his brings might be his charisma. Finally figured out who his stage presence reminded me of … Leigh Kakaty of Pop Evil. Considering the experience gap between BTG and the performance that had me raving about PE back in 2011, that’s both a compliment and a very promising sign.
The REAL surprise though was in my overall impression of the band. Watching them work their way through the set I kept hearing influences (whether real or imagined) that were more diverse than I anticipated. Bits of Nonpoint, Sevendust, Three Days Grace, Hinder, a veritable who’s who of the active rock canon. Nothing that even approached the level of a knock-off or anything, just moments where the influences seemed apparent. And that’s when my overall conclusion hit me: this is next-gen active rock, or Active Rock 2.0
Bridge To Grace is a relatively young band that’s had most of their lives to listen, absorb, learn, be inspired by pretty much the entire active rock branch of the family tree. I believe that’s given them more breadth and depth than is often associated with the genre and if they’re an indication of what the next generation of bands will be then not only do I see a bright future ahead for them but I’m encouraged about the future of the entire niche.