Live Review: The Brilliance at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, CA

Material: The Brilliance’s music is nothing short of baffling. Considering this was pitched as an ‘Orchestral Indie’ group leaves out the crucial religious aspect of the band’s material. The first few songs, labeled “The Dream Suite,” were pulled straight out of a church camp song book, which made the shift to “Release Me,” a song about wishing for death, even more jarring. The lyrics were so general that they became unrelatable and impersonal, and at times the arrangements were fractured and confusing. The heart was there, the love was there, but the follow through was just short of what it needed to be memorable.

Musicianship: There is no denying the caliber of these musicians. The string players, seeing the music for almost the first time, did an impeccable job of showcasing the strengths of the music. John Arndt played the piano brilliantly, so well in fact his performance was too ornamental for the songs. David Gungor‘s vocal tone was warm and comforting, with stellar pitch and impeccable timbre. Overall, the performance was strangely disjointed––a pop vocalist with a classical pianist.

Performance: A typical problem seen at The Hotel Cafe is the size of the stage. It’s small and can make interaction difficult; that being said, I don’t feel as though a bigger stage would make a difference to this act at this point in time. The songs aren’t in the right place, which makes the rest of the performance far less important. The songs themselves, so distracting in their lyrical and instrumental content, need to be corrected before the band can move forward.

Summary: What kind of band is The Brilliance? Well, that cannot exactly be explained. Their songs are equal parts too much and too little, and this is so wild that little else can be said. Creativity is often found not by thinking outside of the box, but instead by trying to fit the constraints inside of it. Do not fight structure, do not fight melody, do not fight writing specific or unique lyrics; follow the rules of song structure and pop formats before you break them. You’ll learn something.

Contact: [email protected]

Web: thebrilliancemusic.com

Players: David Gungor, guitar, vocals; John Arndt, piano, vocals; Jean-Paul Barjon, cello; Allie Stamler, violin