Material: Born out of a desire to figure out how to play Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” punk-style, Gutter Bravado's dark vibe pulls heavily from the demons of singer Whitaker, a man all-too-familiar with the gutter and now, in his sobriety, pulling himself up with a healthy dose of bravado.
It’s rooted in ’90s alt-rock and heavy grunge, but dig a little deeper and the quirky melodies expose themselves. Think the joyous jangle of London indie darlings Kingmaker disguised by the drone of Washington D.C. arty types Girls Vs. Boys, all put together in an Alice in Chains-shaped package.
Musicianship: While it is at times very apparent that this group of musicians have only recently found each other, individually all five are clearly skilled and there are enough signs of collaborative potential on display to hint at some great things to come.
Whitaker’s voice is solid and, once he allows himself off the leash a little, could reach great heights. As a band, it is a little patchwork right now––the two guitarists, for example, haven’t hit a shared groove yet. But one suspects they simply need a little time.
Performance: At the Silverlake Lounge, in front of a modest crowd, Gutter Bravado performed with all the energy and enthusiasm of a band at the Hollywood Bowl. All of the showmanship came from Whitaker, whose sunglasses were on and off with alarming regularity. He has visions of “rockstar” in his eyes and he’s not without charisma. His band, meanwhile, simply got on with the task of playing, happy to let their frontman revel in the limelight. That in itself made for compelling viewing, as this seed of a band shared concerned glances, smiling when something went well. We’re watching something grow, and that’s quite special.
Summary: There’s enough skill, passion and apparent pain among these five men to suggest that this could be the beginning of something worth paying attention to. The band is far from the finished article, but that’s okay––there’s pleasure to be taken in the process and the songs they have, like “Shooting Your Life Away” and “Memoirs of a Demon,” are fascinating musical journals.
The Players: Ethan Whitaker, vocals; Justin Little, drums; James Snyder, bass; Dustin Hanusch, guitar; Sam Eggenschwiler, guitar.
Photo by: Brett Callwood
Venue: Silverlake Lounge
City: Los Angeles, CA
Contact: dustin@ blockchords.com
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