They took the stage, and the suspenders and mustache-clad lead singer opened up with a formal introduction: “Good evening ladies and gentlemen. We are Great Caesar.” Pounding bass, muted guitar, marching band drumbeats, and horns are Great Caesar. They began with a marching song, each member lending a hand to the vocals. The second song started off slowly, but hard-hitting in its progression. The saxophone player appeared nervous on stage, but as he began blasting notes from behind his instrument, his composure relaxed into a vibe that suggested he could do anything. The lead guitarist played distorted chords, contorting his body into strange angles that fit appropriately into the tight space on stage.
The highlight was their song “Tango” off of their first EP. The marching-band- inspired qualities took over, transforming the night into a dance party driven by the drumbeats. Rather than huddled in Great Scott, we were in Pamplona during the running of the bulls. After “Tango,” a guy from the audience yelled out, “I hate New York, but you guys are cool”: a typical Bostonian response.
Following standout moments of the set included a new song off their upcoming EP that channeled retro soul, a stark difference from their mostly drum-driven songs of the evening. Their dynamic sound makes it difficult to define Great Caesar by one specific genre. The horns add an unexpected layer to the music, bringing the audience back to flavors of the past, but the distorted guitars are a strong nod to current indie rock influence. Another song discussed a generation led astray in the lyrics, and I could only think of my current generation of “millenials” or “Gen Y” or whatever people call us. It spoke to an uncertain future, and solving all of the world’s past problems, a topic that hits close-to- home amongst Great Scott regulars.
Their last two songs wrapped up the night with their strongest performances yet. “Sweet Banana” opened with a powerful punch and a crazy guitar. This song featured some of the best gang vocals of the night, and goose bumps rose to the top of my skin. The evening ended on a solid note with their newest song, “Rearview,” a perfect example of their dynamic sound mixing punk, soul, funk, and old school all tied up in one Brooklyn package.
CONCLUSION: Great Caesar is, indeed, as epic as its name.
Photo Credit: Christine Varriale