Despite this well-deserved cynicism, Sammy Brue has maintained being a man of the people. A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending Sammy’s EP release show at Kilby Court. Before his set, he chopped it up with friends and fans in the Kilby Court courtyard, interviewing people on whether or not they like GILFs. As a BYU alum, I know a thing or two about taming cougars.*
But as he took the stage in custom coveralls with the message “Hug Someone Today” on the back, he gushed with gratitude, thanking the bands who opened for him, but more importantly remembering how he got there in the first place, thanking the crowd for their continued support.
He then began to play the EP in its entirety. Before he played one song in the middle of his set, he prefaced it by saying, “This next song is… unconventional… I guess… but I still like it.”
It’s not really important which song on the EP he was describing because, for the most part, no one could have summed up the EP as a whole better. Unconventional, or to use a term that was coined in the late ‘70s and ‘80s to describe independent, underground music: “alternative.”
Unfortunately, the term alternative when describing music has lost its meaning. It’s this blanket term we use to describe anything we can’t seem to describe with a better word in the moment. This occurred in the '00s and 2010s for alternative and is currently happening to “indie.”
Regardless of your thoughts on the term, I’m not here for a discussion on genre in an increasingly genreless or genrebending musical landscape. When I listened to this EP, and subsequently when I saw it performed live, I thought of Beck, I thought of Gorillaz, and—this seems like an odd comparison after what they’ve become and how they’re perceived—I thought of Twenty One Pilots. Not necessarily in sound, but of how I reacted upon first hearing their music. Each of these artists stepped away from the norms of their time and did what they wanted, not what was popular.
As with every artist who breaks the mold and then blows up, the beginning is full of people asking the same question: What the fuck? Sammy Brue is no exception. This EP truly feels underground, and despite this aforementioned internal questioning, when you see him live, it all makes sense. Sammy has really become alternative in the best way possible. It’s impressive to see someone redefine themselves so thoroughly and yet so authentically.
I’m not sure what Sammy will do next, if it will sound anything like Dark Mode or not, but whatever he decides, I am sure it will be 100% authentically Sammy Brue.
*This is objectively false and only said for the sake of the joke. My dating life was pathetic while at BYU. Why do you think I joined a band? But even after that, it was more pathetic.