I had the pleasure of seeing The Felice Brothers at The Glee Club on Monday, playing raucous, ramshackle, honky-tonk country rock, which falls somewhere between The Band and The Pogues. Passing the bottle and sharing the songs, it felt like a family affair: three brothers, a dude called Christmas on bass and Greg Farley, who hyped the crowd like Americana’s answer to a hip-hop MC, on fiddle and washboard. They were quite the spectacle but their raw and rough-edged style never felt like an affectation.
Instruments and vocal duties were traded around on the backwater bar band numbers like the anthemic ‘Frankie’s Gun’ and ‘Take This Bread’, but at their core is frontman Simone Felice and his rusty hearted tales of too-much-too-young,; alcohol, violence and women of disrepute. The band seemed to find the typically reserved audience a little too polite, but made up for the lack of bad behaviour off stage with plenty of their own, a highlight being Farley’s use of his washboard as a drumstick.
Support came from A.A. Bondy, touring his new album When The Devil’s Loose, which happened to be partly written during a stay at the Felice Brothers house. Although hearing his sparse, rustic songs over the chattering masses was a struggle, it sounded promising, with evocative lyricism and an atmosphere that called to mind Springsteen’s Nebraska and Neil Young’s After The Goldrush. Bondy also added extra guitar weight to several of the Felice Brothers’ songs.