Know your Bros

By Jason Baxter on June 17, 2011


Portland's Total Bros are one of the most gymnastic punk bands I've ever heard. Consider the springy, pepped-up lick that opens "Leif is Sorry" from their self-titled 7" (the title is an in-joke reference to Orca Team bassist Leif Anders), or the palpable tension of "Universal Typography," which is as taught as an athlete's strained musculature. The band can be a little hard to keep track of sometimes (especially if you live north of the Oregon/Washington border), and with good reason: guitarist/vocalist Ethan Jayne also plays bass in Blood Beach and writes for the Portland Mercury, and Wiley Hickson also drums for Nucular Aminals.

Fortunately, the duo is slated to perform on Saturday night's stacked Northern bill, which also includes Georgy, Chung Antique, and KAREN (you can read more about it in this week's music section).  There's something mildly retro-evocative about Total Bros' sound, a proto-emo thread (minus the whine) that trails back into the late '90s alternative underground. They also feel startlingly alive to my ears, and very "now" in their idiosyncrasy, and it's worth mentioning that their sets are always remarkably energetic. You could say they also have an athlete's endurance-once they performed three sets in a single day, one in Bellingham and two back-to-back in Seattle.

Perhaps I'm getting too hung up on the sports analogies (perhaps I can't get past the band's song title "Joshua Fit for Basketball"). Regardless, it's true that their music pivots and bounces and volleys and dives, and that Total Bros do more with a guitar and drums than many larger bands do with a whole array of instruments. Game on.

[Northern, Total Bros with Georgy, Chung Antique, Karen, Saturday, June 18, 9 p.m., All Ages, $5, 321 Fourth Ave., Olympia,]