Artist Interview: Con Brio

The best part about perusing festival grounds between acts is unexpectedly finding new music that catches your ear. That’s exactly what happened to me at the 2016 Summerfest in Milwaukee.

When I stumbled upon Con Brio (With Spirit) I couldn’t have been more engrossed in their set. The band performed with The London Souls on Saturday, August 19th at The Hamilton in D.C. and I had the pleasure of catching up with the band to ask them a few questions!


 Jesse: You guys are on the road so frequently. What keeps you sane while traveling?

Andrew (Drums in Con Brio):Uhh… keeps me sane while I’m traveling uhh… I watch a lot of movies. So, I download a lot of movies to my phone and sometimes I’ll just disappear and watch a movie on my phone.

 So, what’s your favorite movie?

 Ziek (Vocals of Con Brio): (laughing) Tell ‘em. Tell ‘em like it is.

 I know. I was gonna try to act tough. I watch Minions a lot. Over and over again because it just really relaxes me. It puts me to sleep, It’s like…

I’ve never gotten through it myself. I think I’m waiting to watch that one with my nieces.

 Yeah exactly. Doesn’t make me sound too tough to say it so…

Ziek: I went to a movie theatre alone to see that movie. Haha

 That’s why we are in a band together.

 So, what are you currently listening to?

 I’m listening to that new Ed Scissor album quite a bit. It’s out of control. It’s pretty dope. New Tyler, The Creator. PJ Morton… he’ll be here in a couple of weeks, I think.

 Also that guy Andy Schauff. It’s like S C H A U F? Or something… It’s pretty cool. Been listening to that a lot lately. And, uh, khruangbin. That band khruangbin has kinda been making the rounds with us. And all the things he said

 So, you guys are playing with The London Shows. Have you been on the road with them for a while or…

 Yeah, this is our second show of the run with them. We’ve played festivals with them. I mean, we were at Electric Forest with them, we’ve played Hollywood Bowl in Las Vegas with them.

 Yeah, we’re buddies, so whenever we cross paths its always fun to hang. And we’ve been trying to set something up so this is the first tour we were able to put together so we’re pretty stoked to be able to travel around with them.

 Cool. What’s your favorite place to play that you have played and why?

 That’s a tough one.

 I really like the Independent in San Francisco. I mean, we just played there a lot and they always treat us really well. Just like right off the bat, I guess I think of that one.

 Yeah you guys started in San Francisco, right?

 Yeah, I’m sure I could think of some others, but that’s just the knee-jerk reaction.

 I was gonna say San Francisco too, but The Fillmore.

 I’ll have to check both venues out when I’m out that way. Do you guys have any pre-show rituals or anything like that?

 We sit in a circle and hold hands and like burn sage. Like the beehive, you know?

 Exactly, get all our vibrations on the same uh plane.

 Uh… eat food, you know? Yeah, we’re gonna do that pretty soon. There’s good food coming our way.

 What kind of things on your rider make you feel at home?

 We don’t have too much stuff…

 (interrupts) Champagne

 (in agreement) Yeah, we have champagne.

 And cookies and ginger ale.

 Ginger ale, yeah I love ginger ale.

 If you could feature an artist on your next album, dead or alive, who would it be?

 Oh man…

 Raphael Saadiq

 Alright, good choice.

 Double down on that one. Are you listening Raphael Saadiq?!?

 Listen up!

(everyone laughs)

 I guess on a more serious note, with all the terrible stuff happening recently, I mean we are in D.C., Steve Bannon was fired yesterday, you know… What does playing in D.C. mean to you with everything going on?

 For us this is another show. You know we play and we love playin’ and some of our songs speak to some of the things that’s going on right now and we’re proud to sing those songs wherever we go whether it be D.C. or or Europe or Japan or whatever… you know? As long as we spread that message.

 It’s pretty wild what’s happening and just how blatant stuff is right now. In America it’s always been there. It depends on how out in the open it is and it just seems like that sort of just ugliness and hatred is getting like a pass to be more and more just… not hidden. And I think being able to – like Ziek was saying – be some sort of inkling of positivity of hope or positivity or anything is really important to us.

We don’t shy away from confronting it. You know with what Ziek writes about or how we perform, but we try to make sure when people come to our show that we can take them out of that, too. Let them see like hey, we can be okay as long as we fight what’s going on. Something I realize, too, is it’s like… we can’t be passive anymore. There is a lot of stuff that I’ve been outraged about, but didn’t do that much. I’m trying to be better about that because it’s obvious that the people we’re opposed to are not being passive, so we can’t do that anymore.

 Yeah, I know what you mean. How many times have you hit D.C.?

 This is our third time.

 Third time? Where was the first time?

 9:30 club

 So you did two shows there?

 That was with Grace Potter last year.

 That club’s awesome.

 Yeah

 Yeah, it is.

 It’s REALLY fun to play.

 And there’s cupcakes they give you.

Yeah I’ve heard they treat the bands really good over there.

 So good. Yeah.

 Last question, what’s the funniest thing you have seen in a crowd while performing?

 Funniest thing?

 Well the crowd surfing Pikachu was pretty good.

 I actually don’t remember that… I don’t know if I saw that.

 Wasn’t it in Japan?

 I know it was in Japan.

 We were playing in Japan and one of the people in the crowd was dressed up like Pikachu and crowd surfing. There’s also another time in Vermont when we were playing that someone showed up with a kayak, and the crowd lifted the kayak up and so like he was like rowing over the audience while we were playing… that was pretty funny.

 I saw Rubblebucket at Brooklyn Bowl…

 They’re great. I love that band.

 …and she came out on a raft and like crowd surfed while she was singing and it was nuts.

 First song??

 Nah, it was like middle of the set.

 Damn. I was like hold up…

 Haha You’ve got to work up to that. That’s another fun band we’ve talked about just like amongst ourselves that it would be cool to do a tour with them, or whatever. Because they have really good energy on stage too.

 Yeah, they’re a lot of fun. Well I guess that’s all the questions I have for you guys that I prepared, but do you have anything else that you’d like to share?

 We’re working on some new stuff. We just put out a single All Over Me. We got a split 7” with The London Souls that we’ll be selling tonight, and we are in the studio writing and working on a new album.

 Real soon.

 Any vibe for it? Is it gonna be a concept album?

 We’re talking about that right now. We’ve got a lot of um…

 It’s a lot of vibes.

 Yeah haha, a lot of vibes. We’re really open right now to trying different ideas and sounds and stuff like that, and we’re kinda starting to figure out what the message or concept or if we’re just gonna work on stuff and see what happens or…

 That’s awesome.

 We’re kinda starting that process right now.

 Do you guys know where you’re gonna record it?

 We’ve been recording with this engineer named Scott McDowell who works at Hyde Street Studio C in San Francisco, but we’ll see cause there’s people we’re talking about as far as like producers or whatever, but we’ve been enjoying working with him so far, but you know… we’ll see what happens.

 Cool, well I am definitely excited for the new album. Should be awesome.

 Yeah, we’re stoked too.


If you haven’t been to The Hamilton in D.C. before, the venue is laid out with a stage in the middle, a dance floor in front of the stage, a table/dinner service section raised slightly behind the dance floor, a raised bar off to stage right, and a balcony bar in the back of the space. It is my favorite room to see a musically inclined set in the D.C. music scene.

Con Brio took the stage adorned in all white and began their set. As I mention to my friends that I am surprised the dance floor is empty, Ziek takes to the stage wearing red overalls and a red headband.

Taking the crowd by storm, Ziek gets everyone moving as the dance floor slowly fills to capacity. From the way Ziek commanded the microphone to the way each member seamlessly took a solo, Con Brio is the whole package. The highlight of the night for me was when Andrew took a drum solo and everyone else in the band fell out. After a lengthy, but interesting solo, the band seamlessly hit back into the soundscape and finished the song. It is professionalism like this combined with the frontman prowess that is Ziek McCarter that sets Con Brio apart from other bands.

You know when you go to see a movie because it is so hyped up, only to be let down because it wasn’t as good as you thought it would be? Well Con Brio had been hyped up for me because I had seen them once when I didn’t expect anything and they blew me out of the water. I was a little skeptical that they could do it a second time, but I was wrong. They killed it and seem to have perfected the flow to their live performance. If Con Brio ever stops in your town, do yourself a favor and get yourself out to the show. You will be very happy you did. Upon ending their set, Con Brio were immediately met with cheers of “encore,” which prompted them to perform a few more songs.

They could have performed every song they know and the crowd still would have been craving more. As a band that has covered much ground in their short time together, it is exciting to see what will come next as we await another full length album.

Con Brio’s Set List:

Paradise

Temptation’s Talking

Sundown

Texas Summer

All Over Me

Money

Liftoff

Open/Close

Hard Times

Free & Brave

Kiss The Sun

Give It All

Be sure to check out Con Brio when they hit the road this fall!

Aug 23 Brighton Music Hall Boston, MA
Aug 25 Wanderlust Mont Tremblant, Canada
Aug 26 Higher Ground South Burlington, VT
Aug 31 Town Center Park Big Sky Meadow Village, MT
Sep 02 Bumbershoot Seattle, WA
Sep 10 Russian River Blues and Jazz Festival Guerneville, CA
Sep 16 Monterey Jazz Festival Monterey, CA
Sep 23 Camp Deep End Navarro, CA
Sep 24 Camp Deep End Navarro, CA
Oct 18 The Southern Charlottesville, VA
Oct 19 The Broadberry Richmond, VA
Oct 20 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, NC
Oct 21 LEAF Festival Black Mountain, NC
Jan 17 Jamcruise Miami, FL
Jan 18 Jamcruise Miami, FL
Jan 19 Jamcruise Miami, FL
Jan 20 Jamcruise Miami, FL
Jan 21 Jamcruise Miami, FL
Jan 22 Jamcruise Miami, FL

 

Featured Image: Celeste Lindahl Photography

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