Hurricane JEFF the Brotherhood rages through Kung Fu Necktie (review, photos)

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Nashville duo JEFF the Brotherhood raged through Kung Fu Necktie like a hurricane last night, leaving nothing but scorched eardrums and satiated fans in their wake. The show marked the first of a two-show mini-residency that continues tonight at 8 pm.

It was an epic night for JEFF fans, as the band—who for the past ten years has toured as a duo—debuted their expanded line-up for Philly, playing half their set as a two-piece, and half as a quartet. Early numbers were brash, rash, and frenzied, as the band tore through songs with abandon—while later ones were thick, heady, and dripping with psychedelics.

The brainchild of brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall, JEFF the Brotherhood came together 12 years ago in 2001, and gigged extensively before breaking through on the indie front in 2009. Early songs were released through their own Infinity Cat Recordings label; in 2011 they signed with Warner Bros. Records to release their seventh LP, Hypnotic Nights, produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.

Both early and later tunes were represented last night, as the band took the stage without a setlist, responding to crowd input and their own whims. The first half of the set saw the brothers shredding through ragers like “Heavy Days” and “Noo Sixties”—Jamin’s beats providing a solid foundation for Jake’s wily guitar licks—as well as easygoing jammers like “Mellow Out.” Clad in all white, with unshakable focus, Jamin was the band’s beating heart, while the devilish Jake, dressed all in black, with long hair and a custom-built, three-string guitar, was its impish, mischievous soul.

For the second half of the set, JEFF expanded its line-up to include a second guitarist (a regular six-stringer) and a keyboardist, whose added power allowed them to tackle more complex numbers, like the motorik-turned-electropop grower “Wood Ox” and the sludgy, Weezer-meets-Nirvana-esque “Dark Energy.” Single “Sixpack” was an easy highlight, with its fist-pumping chorus of “oohs”—while older tune “Heavy Krishna” allowed for maximum psychedelic indulgence, both brothers rocking with abandon for the equally hyped-up crowd. We love JEFF as a two-piece, but last night they proved the brotherhood includes all those who believe.

JEFF the Brotherhood might have tore the (metaphorical) roof off KFN, but early sets from Brooklyn’s Hunters and Philly’s The Bad Doctors were likewise shred-tastic. Hunters blew through the space like a wildfire, front woman Isabel Almeida shrieking and flailing like a pink-haired Karen O.—while The Bad Doctors combined metal riffs and Matt McDermott’s schreechy, impassioned vocals with electronic, new wave grooves to surprising effect. We can’t wait to experience it all over again tonight!

JEFF the Brotherhood plays Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., tonight, May 17, with Hunters and Bad Side. The 21+ show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15. More info can be found at the venue’s website.

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