Brick + Mortar Mixed It Up At Schubas
I needed a “weekend out” kind of night because I felt I missed out after only seeing a few buddies for a few hours. One of my favorite bands was playing and they never disappoint. Brick + Mortar are the perfect duo that mixes alternative, rock, reggae, and a new kind of genre that they made all of their own. Being the incredible music fan that I am, I did what every concert goer should do: I checked out the opening band on my streaming music service at the time. What I found was an EP called Bangs.
From the opening song of the same name, I knew these guys were different from anyone I ever heard before. I’m not gonna lie, I thought it was weird sounding, by which I mean nobody was making music like this. It goes without saying that I thought Brick + Mortar outdueled the headliner that night and I made two new friends that also happened to be in the band. I also met some other people who had seen Brick + Mortar before this and I, of course, became quick friends/family with them as well and we would continue to see each other every time they came into town. Well, back to October 19th, 2015. I still had a quandary here. Do I see a band that I have never seen before, by myself, because none of my metal head friends could get out of work and have changed quite a lot since their album came out in 2003? Or do I see my family and friends that all want me to be there and have shown the most appreciation to their fans of any band I have ever seen. Well, when I put it like that the choice was simple. I told my friend, “I’m going to the Mortar!” I live in a suburb of Chicago and getting downtown is pretty convenient and this is when I listen to all the acts on the bill on the Metra and the El trains. I knew Brick + Mortar were coming at least a month and a half before this, opening for a guy I never heard of before, Jeremy Loops. I get to Schubas and I already get the awesome vibe because right when I walk up I see one my Mortar Head friends, Brandon Asraf, the bassist, guitarist, and lead singer of the band, who would call us later in the night.
I met him at the last Brick + Mortar show and we just picked up where we left off from about a year ago. We then hear a bass and drum being tuned up from outside. We know it’s about to start so we start piling in. We make our way to the front and are hit with the heat from the crowd and lights they’ve set up. Brick + Mortar open with “Keep This Place Beautiful” and John Tacon, the drummer, is wailing on his kit. The song is an anthem of helping out your fellow people on this planet we share. With every song, it brings me back to the awesomeness of the first show I saw and it feels great to be free, in the zone, connecting and singing along with your fellow concert goers. They play through a few more songs before hitting my favorite song off their new EP, Dropped, “Hollow Tune.” Brandon says it is about not being alone when you have depression, anxiety, or just when you are having normal everyday problems. They close out their set with Brandon, John, and the most of the concert goers (including me) sweaty from moving along to the music. I go outside to get some air and of course I see Brandon and John packing up their gear into their van. We say hi normally and, of course, being the great people that they are remember my friend Alex and I from past shows. We get back in expecting a more kind of “only folk” vibe for Jeremy Loops’ songs but he completely proved me wrong. He brought out a children’s toy so he could create beat box tones for one song. But if Brick + Mortar and Jeremy had anything in common besides hanging out with fans during and after the show, it is a reggae after tone and influence in their music.
The best parts of the set were Jeremy bringing out sax player, Motheo Moleko, who is huge contributor to Loops’ album (“Down South” and “Running Away”) as well as an an amazing lyricist himself. Everything from house music to different genres of rap was featured in Jeremy’s set and energy was booming out of every song him and his band played. They kept everyone in a high. Both bands had to get on the road to the next city but they all stayed to greet us and say goodbye. It was truly an amazing night as I made sure to take plenty of pictures and embrace the bands and my other Mortar Heads before making the journey back to Arlington Heights.