The anthemic “Nerve” was a high point, the band’s sound filling the large, packed room and owning the venue.
Summit Music Hall, Denver
w/State Champs, Against the Current, & With Confidence
Although it was a four-band bill, I had ears for only act tonight: Bedford U.K.’s Don Broco. This was some kind of dedication, too, as I stood in line for over an hour on a swollen and bruised knee from a bicycle knock-up two days prior. Once inside, I hobbled my way upstairs, grabbed a stool on the balcony, and settled in for what I knew would be an all-too brief set by a band making its introduction to Denver—and to the U.S., seeing as this was their first tour of America.
I wouldn’t classify Don Broco as pop-punk: more like rock ‘n’ roll/indie/funk/emo. It’s an odd mix, but a nice one, and it works. However, as the rest of the lineup was composed of pop-punkers, DB spoke in a language the crowd knew. Somehow, they managed to amp up their songs, adding in pogoing and calls to “jump! jump! jump! jump!” to engage a crowd of kids mostly unfamiliar with the music. (In the U.K., Don Broco has toured with 5 Seconds of Summer and Bring Me the Horizon, further testament to their varied and fluid sound.)
Don Broco introduced themselves to America in November with Automatic, an addictive set of 15 songs that displays the band’s range and talents. One listen and you’ll know: This band is destined for larger stages—far, far bigger. This feeling was confirmed when I saw them at Summit Music Hall. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re headlining bigger venues within the next couple years. (In my notes, I wrote: “I’m seeing a huge outdoor stage at a U.K. festival.” But then, given the band’s already impressive track record across the Pond, that’s probably already happened—or about to.)
But before we go there, let’s get here. After an energetic first song that saw the band emerge wordlessly, diving straight into the music, they gave us disc opener and current single “You Wanna Know.”
Singer Rob Damiani strikes an imposing presence, tall, thin, and always moving; he’s also got a powerful set of pipes to rival the best of them (think Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie, for example). He slips easily into falsetto (hear: “Automatic”) and drives down the funk, especially on “What You Do to Me.” But it’s not just him: I was equally enthralled with the harmonies and sometime leads delivered by the drummer and keyboardist, both of whose voices were pristine.
Few in the crowd knew the songs, but no matter. They got the young State Champs fans involved early on call-and-response “ooh ooh ooh”s to accompany title track “Automatic.” Next up, the driving “Superlove” was another testament to the band’s strength and cohesion.
After letting us know this was their first U.S. tour, Damiani introduced the band, saying Don Broco was “a stupid name.” Turns out they always get called Don Bronco—so, he said, they feel an affinity for Denver. Yes: The crowd ate it up.
The guys took things down a notch with the sultry, funky “What You Do to Me,” its hard-rocking refrain tempered by acoustic guitar and keys–led stanzas and bridge. The anthemic “Nerve” was a high point, the band’s sound filling the large, packed room and owning the venue—never mind the headliners. The vocal harmonies were so rich, it made the stripped-down bridge with just Damiani’s voice and a lone guitar line stand out all the more.
The all-too-short set ended with “Money Power Fame,” a song that slips easily between in-your-face rock and indie emo—and, true to tonight’s show, they put a pop-punk twist on it. It was a memorable way to end, and undoubtedly made the Brits more than a few new fans.
Don Broco certainly have what it takes—and with SharpTone Records behind them and a new album due this summer, I have no doubt they’ll make it big. And they deserve it. | Laura Hamlett