Con Brio (photo: Estefany Gonzalez)
If you’ve ever listened to Con Brio, you know the band’s mission is to bring its audience to a world full of musical bliss.
The official invitation can be found on band’s 2016 album Paradise, where singer Ziek McCarter pleads for you to join the group in paradise on the opening track. It’s a self-imposed duty that comes to life across venue floors so completely, even the venue wallflowers start to dance, and soon there’s no doubt every person in the crowd is experiencing euphoria on earth.
When numbers like “Liftoff” come on, it’s hard not to lose yourself in the music. Trust me, I’m guilty of grooving to the band’s tunes with camera in hand. The carefree way the members of Con Brio move along with the crowd as though they’re attending a show themselves makes it easy to forget you’re in a room full of strangers and dance like you’re home alone. Songs like “Money” make you forget about the struggles of living in a costly region and shout “Money ain’t got a thing on me” because for those three minutes and 46 seconds, time is worth more than cash.
Watching seven humans expel so much raw energy, you can’t help but wonder how it’s possible to keep that contagious vibe up for countless songs. It’s a question I asked the first time I interviewed McCarter as the band drove from Salt Lake City to Colorado to play alongside the Wailers at Longmont Oktoberfest. I could hear laughter and friendly chatter in the background as McCarter explained the energy came through the band’s chemistry, but I didn’t understand how chemistry correlated into backflips and endless jumping.
After spending time hanging out with Con Brio before the band’s show at HopMonk at the start of the year, I finally saw the connection. Each member of the band has six hype men keeping them going. In the moments when guitarist Benjamin Andrews breaks into a guitar solo or keyboard player Partick Glynn swoops into a crazy melody on the keyboards, you can spot bass player Jonathan Kirchner and trumpet player Brendan Liu feed into the momentum the other started, and vice versa.
The same chemistry is present offstage, too. In the candid moments between portraits, we laughed at minor inconveniences like the few times we had to stop our photo shoot to let people pass in the hallway — a seven-piece band takes up a lot of room. McCarter even held the door open for a few women to enter the restroom next to the bench he sat on. Tender little moments where band members check in about minor injuries and Tiger Balm took place, too. Though their stage presence really is as infectious as it is often made out to be, it’s tender moments like these that put bands that are all hype, not each others’ hype men, to shame.