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Sunday, 01 July 2012 01:00

Concert review: Kentucky Knife Fight (with Brothers Lazaroff and the Lady Birds) rock and roll a sweaty crowd at Off Broadway, Saturday, June 30

Kentucky Knife Fight at the Firebird 11/25/11 Kentucky Knife Fight at the Firebird 11/25/11 Ben Mudd
Written by Will Kyle
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Brothers Lazaroff brought their serene blend of roots and Americana to Off Broadway to open for Kentucky Knife Fight.

The five-piece started early to a partially-formed crowd, but that didn't stop them from blasting out the rock, funk, country swing and a host of other genres, a seamless reduction resulting in the band's indelible sound. David Lazaroff's acid jazz guitar opening to "I See Her" woke up those in the audience who were sleeping, while Mo Egeston's stately keys supported Teddy Brookins's fluid and effortless bass line. Jeff Lazaroff's vocals on "Where You Going Now?" conjured the silk of Jeff Tweedy, yet stood on their own as a warm counterpart to the playful "I'm curious about you" tune.

Grover Stewart offered up a slew of sick fills on "Run With the Horses," as David unleashed one of his many impressive power solos. "It's All Relative" featured a jazzy Phish presence and a heady jam. On "She Loves to Dance" (dancing becoming the theme of their set), Brookins' bass strap fell off, but he reattached it with a smile, not missing a note in a display of pure panache. Brothers Lazaroff closed with the existential "Old Way of Thinking," from 2010's "Give 'Em What They Need." The warmth of Egeston's organ led the song into a surprising chorus turn-around with plenty of room for an instrumental rock-out. The Brothers Lazaroff were on last night at Off Broadway with their amazing dynamics and genre play, introducing the audience to a "[New] Way of Thinking:" A Brothers Lazaroff way of thinking.

The Lady Birds, a power-punk, retro garage rock band from Louisville, Kentucky, followed Brothers Lazaroff with a set of uptempo greaser tunes -- vocalist Sarah Teeple doing her best 5,6,7,8's impression. "Lights Out" stood full of purpose and featured a strong level of frenetic polish. On "Who You With," Teeple prefaced with, "This is a song about men, who can be dirty dogs." The tune offered up more country-twang than the rest of the Lady Birds' head-crashing set. "She's Alright" was pure road-house rally cry with alternating male-female vocals and stabs of organ. I felt like I had awakened in a Tarantino movie.

Kentucky Knife Fight kicked off their appearance in support of their new single, "Misshapen Love." Lead singer Jason Holler donned his sunglasses as guitarist Curt Brewer strummed on his electric. Nate Jones's lead guitar gave the track a third-dimension of dark angst complemented by Holler's vocals, "Why you wanna go and wreck my life?"

"Always a Bride, Never a Bride" was a moonlit whiskey wander with a deep propulsive power and a shout-out to all the only children in the audience, "She can tell I'm an only child." Holler's vocals were slathered with tasty reverb, and an a cappella section and a long, drawn out pause at the end were welcome subversions. "Herschel Walker" showcased James Baker clicking along on the rim of his snare in perfect time, as Holler drawled out a hillbilly cry during the song's chorus. Kentucky Knife Fight let the air in and out of this song with a skill rarely seen by a band with two (very loud) electric guitarists.

Holler and company worked Off Broadway into a fury with "Bad Blood," with its engine block roar and repeated chorus, "Bad blood, bad blood." The kid next to me said, "He's saying, 'Bad Bud' Johnny, 'Bad Bud.'" Not quite, but his heart was in the right place.

Kentucky Knife Fight stomped into "Dream So Sweet," and the audience took the cue. Soon, Off Broadway's floor shook as Brewer, with a wicked smile, twanged out a solo on his banjo. "Wild Irish Rose" culminated with a massive crescendo and stair-stepping bass from Jason Koenig. Brewer dedicated the evening's Holler-less jam session to "Magic Mike," which garnered a laugh from the crowd. One woman said, "You know, that's the new Channing Tatum movie where he plays a stripper."

"I Can't Stand This" incited the crowd to join in with Holler and the rest of the band on the woo's during the chorus. "I Love the Lonely," replete with a power-jazz vibe, sounded as resplendent as the studio version. The crowd screamed the turn around, "Cause they love me," back at Kentucky Knife Fight like a dark credo for St. Louis.

Kentucky Knife Fight closed out with "Nameless," which served as a nice comedown from "I Love the Lonely." The band was beckoned to perform two encores. Holler emphasized the do's on "Sex Crimes" with skilled annunciation. The self-satisfied "Got My Heaven" finished the evening with country fortitude and some shirtless banjo work from Brewer. Before the song's final verse and chorus, Holler introduced his band to wild cheers. Kentucky Knife Fight quit the stage to greet fans and jaw about the band's upcoming tour. It was a night of wonderful Midwestern music, one that St. Louis ought to be proud of for some time to come.

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