Con Brio

The first time I saw Con Brio was at this year's Outside Lands Music Festival. I told myself I was only going to stay for one song but half a dozen songs later,  I forgot about catching Big Grams and I found myself lost in a trance with the funk tunes blasting from the Panhandle stage.

Singer Ziek McCarter's dance moves reminded me of a young Michel Jackson's, and the band’s chemistry was infectious. I was one of the hundreds of other people who chose to skip a trip to the main stage and watch this soulful, high-energy band.

Outside Lands was just one of many live shows on the band's list of 2016 performances. Over the past year, Con Brio has toured all over the world and hit big-name festivals along the way — Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, and Fuji Rock in Japan, to name a few.

Though the Bay Area group has spent the majority of the year on the road or recording new tracks, the band returns home for a show at The UC Theatre in Berkeley on October 14. I caught up with McCarter via phone during the band's trip from Salt Lake City to Colorado to play alongside The Wailers at Longmont Oktoberfest.

This concert will be Con Brio's first headlining show in the Bay Area since the band's sold-out show at The Independent back in February. Though the group celebrated its record release for Paradise  at Outside Lands, McCarter is excited to play a more intimate concert in the Bay.

“A lot of our families, friends, and loved ones, they always ask ‘When's the next time you’re playing in the Bay?' A lot of people that supported us and have been long-term fans want to see us. At Outside Lands, you don’t want to buy a $200- or $300-dollar ticket to see your favorite band play for 45 minutes,” McCater says. "It'll be a lot of fun and I'm just excited to play in the East Bay."

The seven-piece group spends a lot of time on the road. "It seems like we've been on one long tour for the past two years," he says. " We play a lot. A lot of our [live] energy just come through our chemistry."

The reason such a large lineup works for the band is because of this same chemistry. "We enjoy ourselves. We're very passionate and genuine. Every note and every physical gesture we make, you know that it's what we live and breathe right now, in paradise. This is our mission. It's our message," McCarter says. "We spend a lot of time together. We're full-time musicians, it's not like we have to work from nine to five and then we all go home. "

The theme "Paradise" is one that inspired the frontman a while back. The band's full-length album touches on hard subjects such as the Black Lives Matter movement, with songs such as "Free & Brave" political anthem inspired by  the death of McCarter's father at the hands of East Texas police. Yet, this same theme speaks about struggles with money and then, of course, love songs too.

"It's been sitting with me. It's been something that I've been trying to create personally in my space and it just transcended through music," McCarter says.  "All of these are personal narratives that I navigate through on a daily basis. It essentially started with just wanting to create and develop my personal happening."

Bay Area Con Brio fans have a lot to look forward to the week of October 14. The band not only plan to treat its fans to a "family style" show but also expect to release a music video for the song "Money," which the band recorded in San Francisco on McCarter's birthday.

"I don't want to try and sound too physiological. It's a pretty straight-ahead song. I was on my way to rehearsal on my bike and I was stressed out about money and just wondering how it was going to all pan out financially, especially music and financed being where I am right now and I wrote the song," McCarter says. "I wanted to flip it around and carry something that's digestible for me as I pursue my dreams.”

While McCarter didn't want to give too much detail on the band's upcoming show, he said Con Brio is working on various collaborations with various other artist and "legendary rappers."

"We have some  stuff if the works right now that I’m excited to hopefully play on the 14th."

Con Brio, Kev Choice, Kuckaw
The UC Theatre
October 14, 2016
8pm, $21.50

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