Shows are always the best when the bands playing have high energy. That’s when you get the best moments — shooting the show or hanging out enjoying some awesome music. I had never seen Tweens, Brenda, or Bully live before and was pleasantly surprised when every single band had their own unique, amazing energy with the crowd in between performances as well as on stage when they played Sunday, January 21 at Zanzabar. All three bands seemed incredibly excited to be playing together, something I thought was awesome. I love it when musicians really care about each other and interact well together, and the thrill was infectious.
I was familiar with Brenda, but had not really listened to their albums — something I now am going to change. Watching them on stage was mesmerizing. Brenda’s joy and passion for music was clear as they played their instruments and smiled with every song they played. One of my favorite songs they performed was “DRDR”, the intro to that song is killer. I’ve always loved songs with a gradual build up — they always intensify the anticipation and then kill it, something Brenda repeatedly does not only in the intro, but all throughout the song. Apparently, their usual drummer JC wasn’t able to perform, but JC’s replacement dummer was incredibly talented. I never caught her name, and only being familiar with the band’s name and not their music prior to seeing them play, I got the indication that she was replacing someone else due to the other members, Brenda Mahler and Shelley Anderson, repeatedly commending her talent and performance — another thing I loved about this band!
Tweens played next; another band I wasn’t familiar with prior to the show. The energy from the bassist alone was enough to make this show memorable. When I think of Cincinnati bands that are well known, I think of The National and the Afghan Whigs — I love that Tweens is the complete opposite of both of those groups and that they’re quickly gaining notoriety. It was really electrifying when I noticed someone appeared to my left during Tweens’ set, and it was none other than the aforementioned drummer playing with Brenda. How awesome it was to see a member of a band playing the same show get right up front to watch the other bands on stage!
I was so incredibly excited to see Bully I could barely stand it. I was sick as shit for this show, but nothing was stopping me from photographing it. Prior to doors opening at Zbar, literally right after I parked, four firetrucks pulled up across the street. It was awesome when Alicia of Bully was quite literally 5 feet from me standing outside trying to figure out what was even going on — I still don’t know what the hell happened, by the way. It took everything in me to not pull out my camera and start taking photos of her watching the firefighters run over to connect to the hydrant right beside us. I didn’t want to be the annoying, invasive photographer — something I ended up doing later. Sigh.
When Bully came out to set up their equipment and run sound check, the entire room roared with applause. After they left and a few minutes of waiting once again for them to reappear, the room started chanting “Bully! Bully!” In retrospect, I imagine this is either really annoying for bands or exciting for them to know that their fans, who sold out this show, can’t wait to see them play. Seeing Bully perform, I’d say it was probably the latter in this case.
As soon as they came on, every single song that they played had the whole room singing along — something I hadn’t really experienced before. Usually, there’s one or two songs that everyone in the room knows and belts out at the top of their lungs. In Bully’s case Sunday night, it was every single damn song! How awesome that was. I couldn’t help but smile when I tuned back into the crowd’s experience and realized just how great the atmosphere for this show was.
They opened up with “Feel the Same,” one of my absolute favorite songs by them. After playing “Hate & Control,” Alicia threw her guitar down, one note sustained that rang out to the crowd for the entirety of the time they were off stage before returning for their encore. Coming back, they played “Trying,” another favorite and then of course “McClusky.” Watching them perform “McClusky” was amazing, Alicia was incredibly passionate during this one. She was all over the stage, going to stage right to get closer to the crowd, then lay on the floor, then to stage left. Remember when I said I embarrassed myself? Yeah, that’s because I was taking photos or her being right in front of me and didn’t realize that she was trying to leap off stage. I did realize this when she ended up sort of tackling me. It was badass! Watching her sing in the middle of the crowd was amazing — a moment I didn’t get to capture, but one I’ll never forget.
As a woman, it’s always inspiring to see strong female leads in bands. This show was certainly no let down on that. Each band played an enjoyable set and energy that left me buzzing after the show. This was probably one of the best shows I’ve seen at Zanzabar so far!
Check out a few photos I took from the show below:
SIDE NOTE: Special thanks to Amy Yabao for proofing this one for me, as I’m still sick and having trouble functioning! You’re awesome, Amy!