The Bravery played to a sold-out crowd at The Roxy last Saturday night. The set drew from their two studio albums and mixed in some of their new material in the nearly one-hour show.
The band burst onto the scene in 2005 with their hit “An Honest Mistake.” It made the rounds at nearly every real and imaginary party. Its strong electronic beat and easy-to-remember chorus made the track a perfect one for kids stumbling around in some guy’s basement. The song subconsciously made its way into the heads of people everywhere, and half the time they didn’t even know how.
This type of environment can hide a band’s weaknesses. Weak lyrics are drowned out by loud beats and the repetitive nature of some songs can be grating without the aid of alcohol or some hallucinogenic.
In a live performance, the whole package is on display. The conventional wisdom is that live music always sounds better than recorded music. It’s almost true, but the band has to have some sort of catalog to be capable of sounding great.
Sure, the audience could be dancing, they could be jumping around, but the focus is on listening to the band. Some bands are able to transcend their shortcomings and still play a great show, but others cannot hide these flaws.
Unfortunately, The Bravery fell into the latter group and its weaknesses were magnified in concert. The songs became repetitive and eventually just blended together. With the band playing a full set of songs, it became obvious that these guys are better consumed in three or four-minute slots.
To make matters worse, they actually ignore many of their strengths. Their new songs attempt to be more sincere and even loving, abandoning the structure that brought them success. When the group loses the electronic and synth noise and relies on just the power of their words, they sound plain ordinary.
Lyrics were never their strong suit. On record it can sound forced, but in person it can sound even worse. A band that writes the line “You put the art in retarted” in good conscience has to know they won’t be winning any Grammys. And that’s from a song aptly titled “Public Service Announcement.” The song is easily one of The Bravery’s strongest songs, yet it sounds like they don’t even know it.
They even try to put a political spin on one of the songs. Before playing it, lead singer Sam Endicott urged people to go out and vote. He said it all related to their next song, “Every Word is a Knife in My Ear.” It was an interesting attempt to make something serious out of anything but.
This is all not to say that they are not a good band; their music is the perfect background album for just about anything. They thrive in places where they are just another detail at a party or the last minute addition to a playlist. When all eyes are on them, you wish you still had the pause button.