LIVE REVIEW: Brutus – Dallas, TX 03/31/2024

Belgian post-rock trio Brutus’ ‘Unison Life Tour’ reached a small yet lively crowd at Club Dada in Dallas, Texas on March 31, 2024. Consisting of Stefanie Mannaerts (vocalist, drummer), Stijn Vanhoegaerden (guitarist), and Peter Mulders (bassist), Brutus is known for Mannaerts’ eerie, clipped vocals, crisp guitars, and grim bass catering to their own unique mix of punk, black metal, and shoegaze. Their first full-length album, Burst (2017), merges the band’s multi-layered and varying music tastes into an unrelenting modern alternative rock record. Following this is their second album Nest (2017), an intense hardcore record with clear-cut, raspy vocals from Mannaert alongside Mulders and Vanhoegaerden’s refreshing take on metal elements. As a result of undeniable talent, Nest brought Brutus to widespread fame and esteem within Belgium and globally. On Unison Life (2022), their most recent release, the band dampen their unique hardcore franticness for a more coherent body of work while still embracing their black metal inspirations.

The band opened with “War,” from Nest, an unpredictable showstopper that draws listeners in with Mannaerts’ emotive belts, Mulders’ captivating presence on bass, and Vanhoegaerden’s pick guitar before exploding into a post-rock fury. Riding this high, the band immediately segued into “Horde II” (Burst), “Storm” (Unison Life), and “Justice de Julia II” (Nest) before a brief interlude. Through this dynamic, unforgettable show, the audience gathered to thrash around together mimicking Vanhoegaerden and Mulders’ movements on stage.

As the show progressed, Mulders often walked towards Mannaerts, the pair smiling and joking during softer moments. Messy, adrenaline-fueled songs like “What Have We Done” and “Liar” (both Unison Life), highlights Mannaerts’ rougher vocal range along with her unbelievable riots on the drums. Brutus launched into crowd pleaser “Victoria,” a classic shoegaze track and nostalgic lyrics from Unison Life, then closed with the seven-minute long post-rock lullaby “Sugar Dragon” (Nest). Brutus emphasized the significance of live shows with their powerful brooding vocals, melancholic riffs, explosions of heavy drums, and satisfying bass.

Opening the show was psychedelic garage rock Ghostwoman formed by Alberta native Evan Uschenko (vocalist, guitar) alongside drummer Ille van Dessel, who joined Uschenko for his latest project Hindsight is 50/50 (2023). The duo’s soft, vibrant energy psyched the crowd up for Brutus, with tracks such as “Bonehead” and “Alright Alright.”

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