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July 27, 2007

Brian Grosz at The Cat Club in West Hollywood, CA. July 24, 2007

In preparation for Brian Grosz show on Tuesday night in West Hollywood, I checked out his website so that I could familiarize myself with his music and style. An excerpt from Grosz's bio read, "It's always darkest before dawn: the narcotic warmth is turning cold, the hangover is knocking on the front door and the miserable tendrils of reality begin gripping tightly beneath your skin...Reveling in the imperfections of passion, GROSZ brings us murder-suicide ballads, crippled lullabies and endlessly dark hallways filled with the lingering, metallic scent of ill-fated liasons [sic]." Apparently, that is Brian Grosz.


Then, there's me. A 23-year-old male who wakes up to the sounds of "Teardrops on my Guitar" by Taylor Swift and finds "Never Again" by Kelly Clarkson to be one of the darker outfits in his iPod's closet. Some tracks on Evanescence albums are filled with a little too much doom and gloom for me. There are some nights when Gordon Ramsey on Hell's Kitchen is a little too angry for me and my version of visual and auditory masochism is me keeping it on my DVR (I do love that dreamy nanny Bonnie). Thinking back, probably the closest thing I have heard to a murder-suicide ballad is Tupac Shakur's "Me and My Girlfriend" (which was pretty terrifying for me in middle school). Was I ready for "endlessly dark hallways" on a Tuesday night? A night that I spend voting for my favorite American Idol during other parts of the year? In the Mobile Beat version of the "Odd Couple," I arrived at the Cat Club on Sunset with absolutely no idea what to expect. Miles away from any genre I was comfortable with, I found myself completely engaged with the night's brooding performances courtesy of Brian Grosz.

Upon arriving at the club, the man working the door looked surprised to see me stop at the entrance. After giving my name, Brian Grosz himself walked over to introduce himself to me as he was standing with his fellow bandmates to the side of the club entrance. Despite what society might say about the visible tattoos, piercings, shaved head, and horror movie promo-like biography online, Grosz was incredibly easy to talk to. As his reputation indicated, he definitely carried a bit of an edge even off stage, but meeting Grosz, who was performing in support of his newest CD "Bedlam Nights," eased my mind that this most unlikely of musical pairings might actually work out that night. I entered the venue and instantly realized that I was not properly dressed for the show. My Kenneth Cole watch, non-tattooed "sleeves," Ralph Lauren polo, and jeans without strategically placed holes made a fashion statement that was the polar opposite of many of club's attendees that night. I've covered a few shows this summer that were different than what I'm used to, but this one promised to really stretch my experiences with live music - made most obvious when I didn't recognize a single song being played on the club's audio system before Grosz took the stage.


On a random note, before Grosz took the stage, for the first time in my life, I saw someone in the club do the "call me" symbol to someone with his hand, only to magically turn his hand-phone into a hand-bottle to say "let's go for drinks" in one motion!
Am I going to start doing that? Yes I am... Ok, no I'm not.
Grosz, who could easily play the darker, sinister, half-brother of rocker Chris Daughtry in a made for TV movie, took the stage and opened with "Can't Let Me Go." The very haunting, near jazz-like sound paired with Brian's controlled use of his lower register, which would make most males feel like they missed out on the testosterone lottery compared to Grosz's growl, made it obvious that this show was going to be unlike any other that I had ever attended. I don't want to keep using the word "dark," but all of Grosz's performances solidified the reputation that is attached to him. Despite my initial feelings of apprehension, this first performance eased me into what would be a very strong and well received nine song set. And as the venue filled up with eager fans looking forward to Grosz's music and dark humor and joke punchlines between songs, likely a necessary element to balance out the ominous subject matter in each performance, it became progressively more clear to me why fans gravitate towards Grosz's dark brand of rock music.   


Grosz's set list for the night was as follows
- Can't Let Me Go
- Lady on the Low
- Someone's Gonna Swing
- Sick of your Sh*t
- Ain't it a Shame
- King James Blues
- Stacked in a Pile
- Remember the Way
- Where'd You Sleep Last Night?
In both "Lady on the Low" and "Someone's Gonna Swing," which were two of my favorite performances on the night, Grosz's band utilized very heavy drum beats that went well with his throaty vocals, which are often compared to Tom Waits, but were slightly reminiscent in tone of those of James Hetfield in brief flashes to my less trained ears, despite being in a completely different style of music. Instead of this being a loud rock show, like a Metallica, or rock/alternative show like a Green Day or Red Hot Chili Peppers, I came to realize that this was a totally different genre. It wasn't fair for me to make comparisons with bands that I was more familiar with hearing. This show wasn't filled with huge guitar solos, reaching vocals, nor bridges that make you feel like you're on the deck of the Titanic with Leonardo DiCaprio ("I'm flying, Jack!! OMG!!")- this was a darker brand of music that I was being exposed to for the first time.
Often compared to artists like Leonard Cohen and Mark Lanegan, Grosz's music is cut from a similar mold in terms of its sombre subject matter and style. What makes Grosz unique is how his style ranges from a smooth, laid back, melodic, jazzy, near whisper to an emotionally charged growl that comes out with a rough-textured passion that makes you have to believe that being on stage has to be as much about performing as it might be about having a much needed cathartic experience. Even in slower songs like "Stacked in a Pile" or "Remember the Way," Grosz manages to sing songs about topics that most people don't like to think about (suicide and... let's call them "failed relationships") in a way that is engaging to even the most unlikely of listeners.


Closing out the show with "Where'd You Sleep Last Night?" Grosz left the stage to what was easily the biggest applause of the night, as the venue had quickly filled up with genuine fans who had solely come for the sole purpose of catching Grosz live. This was a show unlike any other that I've attended in my life and I was actually happy (a word that I thought might never come to my mind again while I was entranced by Grosz's music) to have had this experience.

Grosz was an incredibly engaging personality, a passionate performer who truly enjoyed interacting with his fans on a very personal level after the show. Beyond his look and image that live up to its billing, Grosz's stage presence and emotionally-charged, doom-filled vocals exceeded all of my fear-filled expectations for the night in a positive way, without utilizing any ridiculous gimmicks (spitting blood, urinating on Billboard Mobile Beat bloggers, biting off stuffed animals' heads, etc.) that would have otherwise taken away from what was an extremely engaging night for everyone in attendance. In other circumstances, I would definitely have said that his show was "sick," but in his own unique way, he definitely made it "Grosz."


Ok, and there may or may not have been an Burlesque show at the end of the night that I may or may not have stayed for...
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a few things dave. 1. I didnt realize that you name is on the "list" at all these places. Like you just drop your name and the band members come out of the wood works to give you a personal high five. when you told me about this deal i just thought you would be doing book reports on the bands you saw, not actually eating their free chees cubes back stage. 2. have you been pissed on before? 3. Burlesque show, kudos!

Nati G.

LOLLLL OMG I started dying laughing when you referenced the hand "phone/drink" sign...soo hilarious...almost as corny as the double guns a la Carlton on Fresh Prince!

Benjamin Ko

how is it that you've been in LA for 5 years, i've been here for 4 years, and we have yet to see eachother. Good to know you doin yo thang.


nice review. that would have been sweet if he bit off stuffed animal heads. especially brown poop white teeth japanese stuffed animals.


More pics of the burlesque show required. =p

Ina Kwon

wow, how'd you hear about this guy? or maybe i'm just out of the loop! great review! ...and is it just me or does he look a lot like the guy w/the braids from 'n sync??


i'm sure the blue polo short blended you right in.


Groovin' pic! You rock!


I dont know who this guy is, but this is a well written article. Also, those girls are hot. Keep up the good work!


Thanks for the update Dave, haven't heard of this guy, but maybe I'll have to check him out.


hahaha, funny stuff man, love the part about titanic, wish I could reinact that scene with you....I'm glad you didn't get pissed on.

Brian Grosz

thanks for the great review, david - i'm glad you enjoyed the show!




whoa mad cool a comment from the man himself!


you know you stayed to watch scantily clad girls dance...


Did anyone see a band called Life Nine play???
I heard there were really good.


Did anyone see a band called Life Nine play???
I heard there were really good.


Did anyone see a band called Life Nine play???
I heard there were really good.


Did anyone see a band called Life Nine play???
I heard there were really good.


Did anyone see a band called Life Nine play???
I heard there were really good.


Sorry, I did know it would paste my comment fifty fuckin times.


Wow, you're good at getting pictures with the singers, if I ask nicely, will you get me an autograph? please???

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