So, you saw this social media post from us about some brass band that is going to march through the campsites pied-pipering people over to the gates of the festival.
And, because this whole endeavor sounds crazy, you might have questions.
Who are these guys? Where did they come from? What time are they going through my campsite with a tuba? (More on that later.) Do I have to follow them to get in? (No, but we promise, it’s a whole lot more fun that way.)
As far as who these guys are, they are the New Sound Brass Band, a Philadelphia-based band that mixes Funk, R&B, Gospel and Rock to make a sound that’s a fresh and soulful twist on various styles of music. This multi-cultural unit draws influence and inspiration from its vast and diverse background to produce a sound that has been described as Philly Soul spoken through brass. New Sound is not so much new in terms of the sonic, but rather in how the sound is collected, treated and offered back to the audience. The intention is to build culture, community and musical phenomenon by the melding and interplay between band and the audience, a relationship between brass and the listener.
And people, believe us when we say it’s a down and dirty relationship.
No one comes away from a New Sound Brass Band show not feeling…possessed? by a sound that can be sweet and almost beautifully violent in its ability to get a body to move in a way you may not not have felt possible. That complex sound didn’t come overnight.
From New Sound’s Dan Gold, “We’ve been together for about two years. We all come from a wide variety of backgrounds in Philly. We started to get together weekly just as friends at first. Some were in hip hop, some were church players, some were Mummers. It was really difficult getting all the various sounds to work together. Trying to wrangle all the details is hard. The core members we have now are dynamite, all in it for the right reasons.”
Although New Orleans has a long history of brass bands, most people in the Philadelphia region may only know of this amazing tradition from its association in years past with Philadelphia based parades. That association may have held Philly back from its rightful place among the brass elites. And while Philadelphia brass bands share a lot of the same vocabulary as their New Orleans counterparts, Dan and the rest of New Sound want everyone to know there’s a real difference.
”As much as people talk about New Orleans and we do love those bands, part of the reason for our existence is to hold our own against them, even to go the opposite way. We define the Philly brass tradition as going with an opposing sound, more technical, sweeter, aggressive.” He searched for the words, “We’re destructive elegance.”
New Sound rarely uses a singer. The brass does the almost all the vocalization. When they do write original songs, it’s a group effort, building layer upon communal layer.
So for a band that prides itself on audience immersion, what do they think about the crowds of fans they’ll meet at Firefly?
“We’re absolutely over the top excited just to be on the lineup with an album coming out. We’ve done a lot of parades but never anything like this. We want to be able to share our music as much as possible, to make as many friends as possible, and to have as many great nights as possible.”
Now, who wouldn’t want to get up and follow a band like that?