JEFF The Brotherhood at House of Blues Chicago

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JEFF The Brotherhood combines the best of so many kinds of rock over the past forty years into one hell of a strange and steady brew. The pact they make just by taking the stage beneath the cover of a fog machine is a promise to toast your brain with some Nashville-bred blues-based rock riffs. Brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall wore their finest denim to the House of Blues Chicago stage. Jake (guitar/vocals) is an absurdly tall and mustachioed individual. Jamin appears less visually distinct though just as much a rockin’ dude.

That’s all there is to JEFF — two dedicated brothers. This probably shouldn’t be that surprising considering the recent success of rock duos like The White Stripes and The Black Keys. But before they begin, I’m still a bit nervous that they won’t deliver on the rock ideals they’ve prepared me for. I had never really listened to these guys before so I wasn’t sure what to expect and all I knew is that my buddy once told me they were “awesome.” Still, I always hesitate with duos; it’s just so hard to create a full sound when there’s only two of you.

My concerns were quickly put to rest. If JEFF has a problem, it has nothing to do with the depth of their sound. They began their set with two formidable tracks that are head-bobbing fun, but ultimately a tease. By the third song, they really unleashed what they’re capable of, which is a virtual mastery over their instruments. Not a moment passes in their set where JEFF doesn’t appear to be in absolute control. Jake launches through scales in every direction while Jamin never misses a beat. He’s steady beyond his years, but neither of them are without their moments of flair.

It didn’t go unappreciated. Halfway through their set a pit broke out and it got pretty raucous. One girl in the pit received a kick to the head hard enough to draw blood. It’s worth noting that this aggression seemed antithetical to JEFF’s music and aesthetic. They came here to rawk (with a ‘w’), not to fight. That’s a philosophy really defines the tenor of their music. FIDLAR before them subsisted on raw energy, whereas JEFF succeeded on pure rock and virtuoso talent.

They mesh together, sometimes simultaneously, sometimes adjacently, ‘90s punk, alternative rock rhythms, swamp rock, blues swagger, crunchy metal licks and drudgy plodding melodies. Yet it never feels unnatural; everything feels very “right place, right time.” I swear there was a moment where Jake launched into a solo that channeled the very best of Black Sabbath, then crept right back into a pop rock chorus, yet I was right there with him.

If you’ve ever loved a rock song of any kind, catch these guys the next time they swing through Chicago. You’ll feel right at home.

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