Lives In Unison: Brutus live at Hard Club, Porto
We have said this before and we will keep saying it until the day we die – there are no bands out there quite like Brutus. Ever since the release of their debut full-length, Burst, the power trio of vocalist and drummer Stefanie Mannaerts, guitarist Stijn Vanhoegaerden and bassist Peter Mulders have carved a path to success that is both awe-inspiring and highly desirable – who wouldn’t want to play in a packed venue every single night? And that is all due to their incredible sound, a blend of hardcore and post-metal that feels both fresh and innovative, and that pushes forward the boundaries of both genres. We were lucky enough to see them back at Amplifest 2022, but this time around, they were performing as the headliners of their own tour, so the dynamic could be entirely different.
And yet, it wasn’t. I find it amusing that Brutus have the tagline of “trouble comes in threes” as their motto because the trio looks like the nicest people you have ever met. And they are, but on stage, they are true troublemakers in the most wonderful sense of the word. But before we could witness their return to the stage of Hard Club, we had a little surprise in the form of The Christian Club, who were opening the night as special guests. To those that do not know that name, The Christian Club is an alternative band from Brugges that mix austerely plucked guitars drenched in reverb with double bass and a voice that sounds like a young Carl McCoy in the early days of Fields of the Nephilim. An odd combination, but on stage, it works really well to create an atmosphere that envelops the audience like a soothing blanket. Melancholic and sorrowful, but incredibly poetic, this was a sort of calm before the storm, a perfect opening for what would come afterwards.
As aforementioned, Brutus are troublemakers in the most wonderful sense of the word, but let us explain exactly why. While their sound is that deliciously astonishing blend of sonorities and the lyrics deal with emotional and personal themes, the trio present themselves on stage in a very gleeful way, immensely content to be able to play live in front of so many people. A whole year after the end of the pandemic, and with so much terror happening more and more all around the world, one can truly understand this sentiment – how much longer will we be able to fully enjoy moments such as this? That is always the feeling with which we leave any show nowadays, and we feel like the bands also share those same thoughts with us. But let’s not take away our focus from this auspicious night.
Earlier, we mentioned Brutus took the underground music scene by storm with their debut, but the record they were presenting was their third and most impressive yet, Unison Life, which they played almost in full, with “Liar” serving as the perfect opener. During “War”, from Nest, their outstanding sophomore record, the moshing started, as the audience absorbed the intensity of Brutus and unleashed in a circle pit. The trio was visibly happy, with wide grins gleaming from ear to ear, as they continued playing, once again delivering an amazing performance. Once again, we have to make a special note to the astonishing voice of Stefanie Mannaerts, whom we will always declare as the Björk of post-hardcore. That alone does not make her justice, however, as she is a brilliant drummer as well, and the way she manages to sing so well and play so precisely at the same time is a feat so few people can accomplish. After a virtually nonstop and constant barrage of songs that included “Storm”, “Desert Rain”, “Justice de Julia II”, and “Chainlife”, the trio reached the climax with “Sugar Dragon”, ending what was perhaps one of the best shows we have ever seen. To the sound of a tremendous applause, Brutus say their heartfelt goodbyes to the audience that once again received them so well, promising to return very soon. And when that day comes, we shall be here to welcome them with open arms once more.
Words by Filipe Silva
Photos by Alexandra Ramos