BROODS and Tei Shi were at the El Rey Theatre on Wednesday night — two acts that I have followed for many years.
BROODS were touring in support of their fourth full-length record Space Island — a much less mainstream-sounding pop record than their earlier efforts. This makes sense given the sibling synthpop duo are independent artists after breaking up with their major label (twice) following their first two records. Their new material sees them explore new soundscapes — with some songs sounding pretty jazzy and ethereal compared to their earlier work.
The duo played basically the entire new record and only a handful of their older songs — showing just how much they’ve moved on from their earlier work they crafted when they were teens and in their early twenties. Their breakthrough song “Bridges” was one of the older songs performed, but in a new updated way.
It doesn’t seem as though the new direction has alienated much of their fanbase. People were really vibing to the new record and singing along to quite a bit of it. They were playing a smaller venue than I expected — but I really do chalk that up to how hard times have been for mid-level touring acts in the wake of covid-19. It seems as though people just don’t have as much money to spend on live music and are putting what they do have towards seeing big box-office acts, who are still selling out venues no problem.
Tei Shi is in a similar boat to BROODS. The singer announced mid-set that she is now a fully independent artist, and she played basically exclusively new material she is working on. It was just Tei Shi with a track playing behind her, and you could tell how excited she is to enter this new musical stage of her life. She played a new song “Grip” saying that it was dropping the next day. So far, there’s only a video and it isn’t even on Spotify yet.
I loved old Tei Shi but this new direction is something I can vibe with as well. Some of her stuff sounded a bit like a motown-y Durand Jones and The Indications type vibe, which I dig.
It was a great doubleheader at the El Rey and I can’t wait to hear more from these two acts as they continue their journey as independent musicians.
Words by Mark Ortega
Photos by Justin Higuchi