Younger Brother | 05.17 | San Francisco

Words by: Nick Boeka | Images by: Dave Vann

Younger Brother :: 05.17.08 :: 1015 Folsom :: San Francisco, CA

Younger Brother :: 05.17 :: San Francisco, CA
Few individuals have done more to shape and define an entire genre of music than Simon Posford. His reach and influence in the electronica world, goa and psychedelic trance (psytrance) in particular, is omnipresent. Posford has been an integral part of the U.K. Twisted Records label with partner Simon Holtom, and has been involved in numerous projects in roles ranging from engineer to DJ to guitarist. He typically goes by the stage name Hallucinogen when performing solo. Lately, he's been collaborating with Benji Vaughan (Prometheus) in livetronica act, Younger Brother. Making its American debut, Younger Brother lined up a few names from the U.S. livetronica scene to round out the band. Joining them for a four show tour in Colorado and California were Joe Russo (The Duo) on drums, Marc Brownstein (The Disco Biscuits) on bass and Tom Hamilton (Brothers Past, American Babies) on guitar.

Now, what made this evening so unique was the venue. Unlike the other theatre dates on the tour, this night took place at 1015 Folsom, a premier South of Market club in San Francisco. There are three floors with multiple rooms each, a huge main room which is setup typically for live bands, a large formal stage area, big speakers, lights, a wrap-around balcony and flanking bar areas. Though the show's handbill featured only four main acts, there were easily 15 dispersed amongst the rooms, each embodying a unique musical and visual theme. Before the main room even opened its doors at 11:30 p.m., I had spent nearly three hours wandering through the various beats, sounds and vibrations as the club sweated and shook with deep bass resonance.

The main room opened with a monster set by Conspirator. This "DJ" set had Aron Magner joining Disco Biscuits bandmate Brownstein, using his laptop and keyboards to trigger the beat tracks, samples and effects. The group performed without Omen, who is the typical third of this group. I enjoy this Bisco side project the most, and actually prefer it over the full band due to lack of vocals, deeper grooves and more house themes. Midway through their set, Hamilton emerged, jacked in and strummed along to a couple tunes. It felt like he was holding back, just warming his fingers up for later, even backing away from some solo opportunities offered by Magner.

Younger Brother :: 05.17 :: San Francisco, CA
At the tail end of the Conspirator set, Posford emerged to fire up his rig, and stepped into Hallucinogen's "Solstice," which dropped harder than your gut on a steep roller coaster ride. There wasn't anything more that could be done to prime the audience for the set that followed. Magner and Brownstein thanked the crowd and left the stage, while Posford was first joined by Vaughan, as they synced and sound checked their workstations, and then slowly the rest of the group joined.

I'd heard comments about "looseness" from friends who saw the first show in Boulder, but listening to just the first few bars I could tell that they must have practiced quite a bit in the off-week because they were right on point. Posford led the band through tracks from both YB albums, A Flock of Bleeps and The Last Days of Gravity, and never ceased to get the crowd lifted to higher and higher levels. "Happy Pills" and "Crumblenaut" launched the room into the sonic stratosphere. Russo was a monster behind the kit, adding his own samples via the trigger pad.

About halfway through the set, I heard this guy in front of me sum up the evening perfectly (despite the evening being far from over): "You know, if this was on the East Coast, people would be pointing at [Posford and Vaughan] going who are they? But here, they're looking at Brownie and Russo going 'Who the hell are these guys?" As a pioneer of trance music, Posford's name is worldwide, and it was obvious from the chatter in the venue that his name was the main draw for the evening.

Younger Brother :: 05.17 :: San Francisco, CA
Throughout the set, a fellow named Ruu would swagger onstage to provide the vocals scattered throughout the albums. Brownstein and Hamilton even took part, providing additional vocals to the anthem "I Am a Freak (I Am Unique)," which got the whole crowd screaming and freaking out to the deep groove of the middle section. As the set closed, I had a feeling that we had all been part of a special collaboration. Brownstein really seemed to hit his stride during this set and as Posford thanked the crowd, he looked noticeably giddy.

The crew began stripping the stage about 2:45 a.m. but the show was FAR from over. Vaughan emerged from the rear of the stage and took front and center to become Prometheus. The nasty-ness that dropped would have been absolutely perfect if it wasn't for the stagehands who kept unplugging and messing with equipment while he was spinning, causing intermittent dropouts, which inevitably led to the holy grail of club failures – audience silence. When a noticeably upset Prometheus was done mixing house and everything from The Beatles to Michael Jackson, the room slowly dwindled down to people who were committed to stay until they ushered us out.

Out patience was rewarded as Posford reemerged to play a Shpongle set, which really featured more of his Hallucinogen tracks than anything else. Shpongle is actually a collaboration with DJ Raja Ram, who was not present for any of this tour. Posford did, however, debut some newer material under the Shpongle name, and the long awaited forthcoming album seems nearer and nearer to release. All I know is that it is going to be the heat! When it was time for me to turn in the towel, Posford was still at it, and I could barely muster a nod in his direction when I stumbled out. There wasn't any piece of my expectations about this experience that weren't surpassed during this incredible night. Since this group was so well received on this tour, I am sure there will be more dates than just the Camp Bisco one-off to look forward to on this side of the pond.

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VerbTheNoun starstarstarstar Fri 6/6/2008 01:22PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Simon Posford is god.

boxofrain Fri 6/6/2008 02:39PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

East Coast peeps know who Posford and Vaughan are!!!

Jammer1086 starstarstarstar Fri 6/6/2008 03:23PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
NickBoeka Fri 6/6/2008 03:57PM
+7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



First of all, if you read, it was not my comment, it was someone else's. He (one who made the comment) happened to be from New Jersey, on *tour* and I happened to think that his comment was actually pretty representative of the people who were in attendance at this particular *show* this night. Out here in SF, the people who were at the club were not just the kids from the scene who know who the disco biscuits are, and follow them around the country. the club is huge and most of the people there weren't even there for Younger Brother. It was predominantly people who are seriously into the Trance scene, and I heard many comments from obviously non-scene related people, asking who were the other "guitar" players on stage (brownie and hamilton).

I just wanted to point this out, and really infer that the west coast folks weren't completely in the know on this one, but you had to go and take it all personally....sorry

FreshFlavor starstarstarstarstar Sat 6/7/2008 08:12AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Really digged the review. Would have like to hear a bit more about how THam fits into the Younger Brother Combination. Does he layer in light guitar work mostly utilizing effects? Or do they give him windows to actually shred it up a bit? I sincerely hope they consider doing a MidWest tour hitting Columbus, Chicago, etc. Absolutely one of the hottest acts on wheels right now. Thanks Nick for a great review.

moejoerisin Sat 6/7/2008 10:27AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i'm so pissed i missed these shows when they came to colorado - sounds like a great time. nice review!

NickBoeka Sat 6/7/2008 11:15AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



I thought that Tom was actually quite reserved for most of the night. I did not see any other shows on the tour, but during the two conspirator songs that he sat in, he was just adding mostly more body to the sound. And on one song in particular, Magner gestured to him several times to get him to rip a solo during the middle jam section. He looked up, but did a quick shake of the head, and the jam just stretched on.

During the Younger Brother set, there were a couple of strong solos, but nothing that was face melting. But, I don't expect that from this band. These guys (simon and benji) are so used to the produced aspect of their music, working in the studio and programming out all of the lines, that the songs themselves don't always have the traditional middle solo section. The bands sound on many of the guitar heavy songs actually sound a lot like Pink Floyd. Long swooping loud but crisp and clean guitar lines. Check out "All I Want" from the album The Last Days of Gravity, for a perfect example of what I am talking about. There were even a few people around me at the show that called it as a Floyd Cover when they played it at 1015.

gmoo Sat 6/7/2008 11:20AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Simon posford is the man.

berneto starstarstarstarstar Sat 6/7/2008 09:36PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Great review, but one question. Didn't Younger Brother play the afterparty show for STS9 on 5/17 in LA at the Roxy? I think I remember being there and it was fantastic. That being said, I wish I could have made it to whatever day they played at 1015.

santacruzin Sat 6/7/2008 09:47PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

thanks dave for the pics, and nick for filling in others on the greatness of this show. my camera broke the day of the show and i didn't get any pics. being a long time bisco and posford fan i was really stoked for weeks before, but the set was beyond even my expectations. best set i've seen this year, and i've seen a lot.

Thirstyphish Sun 6/8/2008 09:34AM
Show -7 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
moejoerisin Sun 6/8/2008 03:49PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


^ yea, you tell 'em, man! no one should use the technology available to them unless you think it's cool!

Thirstyphish Sun 6/8/2008 09:29PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

using your computer to makes beats and effects is great. PA sets are great! they sit up on stage and email back and forth> " look at all these idiots who paid 30 bucks to get in here to see us push buttons!"

FreshFlavor starstarstarstarstar Mon 6/9/2008 07:43AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Thanks for the reply NiceBoeka. ~.o. Definitely could see what you mean.

hnkscrpio starstarstarstarstar Mon 6/9/2008 10:33AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Good review Nick. "stepped into Hallucinogen's "Solstice," which dropped harder than your gut on a steep roller coaster ride" awesome metaphor if I might say so. That venue looks pretty unreal, I'm sure everyone that went had a blast. Thirstyphish is obviously a moron. It takes a lot of creativity and work to sync up a PA set. I wonder if there were a bunch of @ssholes hating on Pink Floyd back in the day when they were using cutting edge technology to create awesome music. Will the hate ever end on this site.

VerbTheNoun Mon 6/9/2008 01:26PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


It's funny all the Pink Floyd comparisons to YB. Turns out, Shpongle did a track with Alan Parsons (who engineered Dark Side of the Moon) and the track rips. Look into it, its called Return to Tunguska. David Gilmour even did the guitars bits on it.

Thirstyphish Thu 6/12/2008 09:34AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

hnkscrpio- i love getting reactions like yours. Yes Pink Floyd did use technology to make great music. But the last Bisco/Conspirator show I heard was far from good music. Listen to Sgt Pep from Langerado, someone honestly should have stopped them (not trying to be a dick) It was like they were taking a shit in everyones ears. I understand if its your thing, but these message boards would be so boring if people didnt have negative feedback. Come to telluride, I heard rumors of a Yonder/Leftover PA set!,

cavemandan Mon 6/16/2008 04:28PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

" I enjoy this Bisco side project the most, and actually prefer it over the full band due to lack of vocals, deeper grooves and more house themes."

deeper grooves? lack of vocals and house themes?... if it wasn't for bisco there would be none of these side projects sheeeesh... people wonder why the comment board is negative its because you read negative crap in the article in the world this author can decide on how deep a groove is we will never know